War in Ukraine: “The unthinkable unfolds before our eyes”

In the park with his boys and his father (February 2021)

In fear long before the time to see her country taken by storm by Russia, Oksana Kaminska has rebuilt her life in Quebec with her husband and children, not to mention her relatives who stayed in Ukraine. The day before the Russian invasion, the youngest of his three boys covered the table with an extra envelope. “It’s for Grandpa he’s coming home,” he replied to his astonished big brother.

A few hours later, on February 24, Roman Meda woke up his wife to announce the start of hostilities. “The first days we did not believe in it, like most Ukrainians. Now we begin to get used to it and understand what is going on,” says M.me Fireplace in the phone, enormous pain in the voice.

Established in Montreal with her spouse and children of 12 years, the 41-year-old physician and ophthalmologist residing at the University of Montreal succeeded in insisting on picking up her father, who wanted to stay to “defend the houses and children. In the for the past two weeks he has been taking a seat at the table and watching over his grandchildren while his daughter is doing an internship in cataract surgery at CHUM and his son-in-law is working at an optometry clinic.

The survivor sleeps better and manages to think of other things, despite the bombs raining down on Lviv, near the city where he lived, and Kyiv, where family members still live. His wife was able to join their second daughter in England.

Leaving to escape the war

In Ivano-Frankivsk, a city in western Ukraine, “peaceful like all European cities”, Oksana Kaminska and Roman Meda enjoyed happy times. Both worked in ophthalmology. But deep down, the woman knew that sooner or later Ukraine would come under military attack. “With a neighbor like Russia, it was inevitable. Following the annexation of Crimea in 2014, we suspected that Vladimir Putin was preparing for the next step.

This gloomy feeling convinced the couple, who were expecting another boy, to emigrate to Quebec in 2010. Twelve years later, their fears materialized. “The unbelievable unfolds before our eyes. Bombing of hospitals, theaters, schools … This is not a war between the army and the army, but a war against the people, she regrets. If we had stayed in Ukraine, our eldest, who will soon turn 18, would have been forced to fight in the army. I study medicine to save lives, not to kill.

Rebuild your life and work to get better

Oksana Kaminska with Dr. Harasymowycz in the operating room (2021)

The newcomers were to achieve equivalence to their diplomas. Roman Meda chose the School of Optometry at the University of Montreal. Oksana Kaminska is nearing the end of her fourth year of residence in ophthalmology at CHUM. The first part of his internship took place at Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital under the direction of Dr.r Paul Harasymowycz, clinical associate professor in the Department of Ophthalmology at the Faculty of Medicine and also of Ukrainian origin.

“The work gives me the opportunity to get through difficult times. In the operating room, I am totally focused on the present, ”says the person who otherwise regularly checks in on his loved ones on Skype or Messenger. Over the weekend, the family lends a hand to a Ukrainian church in the Rosemont district to collect donations and send them to the proposed region. “Working as a team and feeling useful helps keep morale up,” she notes.

On the day the weapons become silent, Oksana Kaminska intends to return to Ukraine in time to teach ophthalmology at the university, as she did on a voluntary basis in peacetime. “The country needs to be rebuilt. Everyone wants to help as they can. For me, it will go through the transfer of knowledge. I will give back what I have learned here. “

Before we hang up, we ask him what his girlfriend’s wish is. She reflects, and then sends this cry from the universal heart: “I want to go back, before the war, and start over. To live peacefully.”

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