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With Just Hope And Prayers, Kerala Student Finally Reaches Home From War-Torn Ukraine

With Just Hope And Prayers, Kerala Student Finally Reaches Home From War-Torn Ukraine

A fourth-year student of the Bukovinian State Medical University in Chernivtsi, Thomas said the city was not at all the same when she and her friends went out on the morning of February 25, a day after the Russian offensive began, to buy some essential articles.

Indian nationals from Ukraine upon their arrival at New Delhis IGI Airport.
Indian nationals, evacuated from war-torn Ukraine, upon their arrival at the IGI Airport, New Delhi. PTI

Uncertainty looming large over their return, it was only hope and prayers for Greeshma Rachel Thomas and others who made the arduous journey from the war-torn Ukraine to home state Kerala recently. For the Keralite girl, the four years of her life as a medical student in Chernivtsi had been a pleasant experience till last week before Russia's military offensive on Ukraine, that has prompted the Centre to launch a major evacuation drive to bring back stranded Indians, most of them students, back to the country. But, the generally calm but lively city in western part of Ukraine suddenly seemed to be gripped with anxiety and fear after the news of Russia's military onslaught in the European nation broke out last week. Detailing the hazardous journey from the Ukraine university back to the southern state, Thomas said none of them were sure at the time whether they could reach home or meet their family. "We only had some hope and prayers in mind," she told PTI.
       
Soon after the Russian attack, long queues started forming in front of ATMs and grocery shops and anxious locals went on a frenzied shopping spree to stock themselves up with whatever they could, aware of the fact that they will be confined indoors till hostilities cease, she said. A fourth-year student of the Bukovinian State Medical University in Chernivtsi, Thomas said the city was not at all the same when she and her friends went out on the morning of February 25, a day after the Russian offensive began, to buy some essential articles. "There were long queues everywhere from right in front of ATMs to grocery shops. We did not get money from the first ATM counter as it ran out of cash and we had to rush to the next one anxiously to find money for our travel," she said. Hailing from Puthuppally in Kerala's Kottayam district, Thomas was one among the 250 Indian students who managed to reach the country the other day. "The scene was the same in shops also. Grocery shops were seen re-stocking articles at a rapid pace as anxious local people started amassing essential articles fearing a prolonged war," she said. The student stated she and other Indian students did not bother to rush back home initially as the university authorities assured them there was a least possibility of outbreak of war or an emergency-like situation. It was also difficult for a majority of students to manage to find money for flight tickets at the last minute. "We had no idea what to do or where to go. Luckily, compared to many other cities, Chernivtsi was not that affected. I was included in the first list of 250 students, prepared by the university, to be sent to India," she said.
        
From the university campus, they were taken in specially arranged buses on February 25 afternoon to the Romanian border to be shifted to the airport. The Indian flag was tied in front of the bus and police vehicles gave necessary escort, she said, adding, without that it was not possible to reach the border crossing amid the heavy traffic blocks and other security issues. "Special vehicles were arranged to ferry us from there to Bucharest in Romania. After several hours of travel and halts, we finally reached the airport where the Embassy officials gave us food packets and water. After landing in Mumbai, I reached Kochi on February 27. Normally, the journey would take only nine hours," the visibly relieved Thomas said. Daughter of Rev Father Thomas Kurian and Gissy Thomas, the medical student said she could be happy only when all her friends and other stranded students reach their respective homes safely from the war zone. "Now, the government and the university have declared two weeks holiday for us. Hope they will launch online classes after that in the wake of the developments," she added. Eighty-two Malayali students, who were studying in Ukraine and left after the Russian invasion of that country, had arrived in Kerala by Sunday night. 

PTI Inputs

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