Newton mom reveals her daughter’s courage to flee Crimea

Russia-Ukraine

A Ukrainian-born nursing student is relieved that her 12-year-old daughter is unwell.

Olesya Simonova Courtesy

A Newton nursing student and single mother is relieved to have her 12-year-old daughter back home after a difficult 10-day journey from Russian-occupied Crimea to Greeley Tribune.

Olesya Simonova, 38, said that her daughter Eva had been living with Simonova’s parents in Crimea for the past four years. The kid was thriving there, learning Russian and bonding with his Ukrainian-born family, while Simonova worked on her nursing degree MGH Institute of Health Professions, Both Simonova and Eva traveled between Crimea and Newton several times a year, with frequent visits being the norm.

A family nurse practitioner student, Simonova is due to graduate in May, and Eva was due to return to Newton around that time. But a Thursday in late February turned their family’s plans upside down.

“I was completing my homework. It was almost midnight, and my phone started going off, the messages were ringing and non-stop,” Simonova told Greeley Tribune.com. His friends and family in his native Ukraine said there had been bombings and airstrikes, and that he feared for his own safety.

Her daughter’s location in Crimea was near a Russian military equipment storage area where military offensives were being launched.

“I was horrified. I called my parents, and they didn’t know what was going on. My main concern was that they were in a very risky zone,” Simonova said.

Already at a stressful time – Simonova was in the middle of midterm – she could not sleep. She knew she had to get her daughter out of Crimea, but initially, she was unsure how to get it out. Although they are both US citizens, Simonova is of Ukrainian descent; It was risky for him to enter Crimea to bring back his daughter. But her ex-husband and Eva’s father, Yevgeny Aguriev, is originally from Russia, so she embarked on a long journey to get her daughter out of harm’s way.

“The journey took him 10 days,” said Simonova. “The majority of the journey was co-travellers, taking buses and trains. We weren’t feeling safe texting about specifics. As long as they told me they were safe in a hotel, I was relieved.

Finally, on March 14, a tearful Simonova hugged her daughter at Logan Airport. “I just burst into tears and hugged him,” she said.

Though relief flooded his body, his heart was still heavy, knowing that so many loved ones in Ukraine were still in danger. Fortunately, none of her family or friends have been injured in the airstrikes, but both Simonova and her daughter suffer from anxiety.

“Eva is very worried. She’s really worried about my parents, and her classmates and friends. But she’s doing well here, going back to school, and safe,” Simonova said.

While in the Crimea, Eva witnessed military activity, but there was not a sense of fear in her community, but a kind of pride. Russian-issued propaganda convinced Simonova’s parents and others there that the conflict was not as serious as it is. They were upset when Simonova wanted to take her daughter back to the States.

“It was devastating because when I tried to talk to them, they did not want me to take my daughter. He thought it was safe and seemed completely oblivious like he didn’t know what was really going on,” recalls Simonova. “I couldn’t talk to him about it, because we got on that issue a lot. were away.”

With no family here in America other than her children and ex-husband – Simonova has a 9-year-old son who lived with her in Newton – the nursing student looked to her MGH Institute colleagues for support throughout her ordeal.

“I got a lot of emails from the dean, the faculty, and my classmates, and it was very helpful,” says Simonova. “My advisors were also in touch with me all the time. He basically helped me plan this trip to get my daughter out of that country safely.

One of her classmates who works with refugees from Afghanistan and Iran gave Eva logical advice like traveling through small towns and airports to help with safety.

“With their help, I realized, ‘We can do this,'” she said.

As their daughter returns to normal life as a 5th grade student in Newton’s school system, and with Simonova graduating, the future looks bright for the family. The experience has opened the eyes for Simonova to new options for her nursing career path. She now-a-days hopes to help people through medical mission trips to rural areas of Ukraine.

“I really hope that when the war is over, things will go back to normal,” Simonova says. “But I know it will never be the same.”

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