Christopher Glass, a former contender for a spot on Airdrie’s city council, along with his parents who live in Calgary, will be hosting a Ukrainian family in May.  

Glass’s 74-year-old mother, Barbara Crawford, who lives in Calgary, will be hosting Kyiv-born Alla Iskra once she arrives from Ireland. 

“My husband and I have been watching TV and watching everything that's been going on. We felt so awful and we didn't know how we could help,” Crawford said. “Then we started talking about hosting somebody and so Christopher, my son, got in on it and we decided to host somebody.” 

When asked why Crawford is helping a complete stranger, Crawford said that it is because she hopes if her children or grandchildren were in such a predicament, someone would find the humanity and the heart to help as well. 

“Watching people leaving their homelands and coming to a strange place having nowhere to go? I kept thinking if I had to do that; I don't know if I could.” 

Iskra who was born and raised in Kyiv exchanged a written correspondence with Discover Airdrie about what she witnessed in Ukraine and her harrowing journey to leave her beloved country.  

On February 24th at 04:56 A.M. Alla’s life changed forever. That night, Russian military forces began what the Russian President called, a ‘special military operation’ in the Eastern region of Ukraine. It has been two months and two days since that operation began, leaving thousands of Ukrainians dead as Russian military forces have effectively occupied the country. Millions more Ukrainians have fled their homes.  

“I heard the first explosions, but they were far from Kyiv, but of course, I didn’t believe that these were military explosions. I thought it was the guys playing and launching fireworks. I tried to continue sleeping,” she wrote. 

Iskra would receive a message from her ex-husband that read: Get up the war has begun

“Honestly, it was hard for me to believe in war in the 21st century and I was not going to run anywhere, I stayed at home for two days. We were forbidden to go far from home only to the store, and even under these conditions, I did not believe in what was happening.” 

Her house was located in the area where there is a road, the only Belarussian road that leads to the capital. 

“When we were in the house, it seemed to us that this was the safest place because then we did not yet know that Belarus, together with Russia, was one and they attacked together. It was along with it that the tanks began their movement too.” 

Once the explosions began to reach the city, Alla’s father told her to pack a bag. 

“We took very few things and went because we hoped that the conflict would be resolved over the weekend.” 

Iskra was all the more hopeful, especially since my son was preparing to celebrate his 11th birthday. Her son would eventually celebrate his birthday, but in no way that any child should ever have to.  

“We celebrated our son's birthday in complete darkness because it was forbidden to turn on the light. And the only delicious dish on this "festive table" was a salad,” Alla wrote. 

The morning after, Iskra knew she must leave. Her mother cried bitter tears, but she had little choice. 

“It was dangerous to return because this is the road along which the tanks were driving and the tanks were hidden in the forest,” she wrote. “ 

 Since that fateful night, the city that Alla was born in, grew up in and had a career as a chief accountant in a financial company, and had a home has been forever marred by the war.  

“A lot has been destroyed. For example, in my area, my son’s school and a shopping center near my house were destroyed. A shell hit it because there was a Ukrainian military equipment base there.” 

Iskra said that Russians have also reportedly plundered areas they have occupied. 

“They plundered all districts of the Kyiv region, took everything out of the houses and took away with them; such seemingly simple and ordinary things as household appliances, lingerie, jewelry, even food, food in cans that our grandmothers canned.” 

 According to the United Nations, “almost 3.7 million refugees have fled Ukraine since the escalation of the conflict on 24 February 2022. Among them, 374,059 have been displaced to Moldova (UNHCR).”

Alla’s entire family, other than her and her son have stayed behind in Ukraine.

“Dad said: 'This is my land, my home and I didn't come to them, but they came to me, so I can't budge,'” Alla wrote. 


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