'Sometimes I think it's a nightmare': How Ukrainians are rebuilding their lives in rural Poland

Tatiana and her six-year-old Tomek were forced to flee their home after it was destroyed in Ukraine. Credit: ITV News

Nestled in the heart of rural Poland is the small town of Brzezniy.

Like many towns and cities across the country, it's having to deal with the impact of refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine.

Poland offers them housing, the right to work and until recently gave them access to benefits.

There is a sense here of just how welcoming Poland is to these refugees. The country has had many international plaudits for its response.

But you can also see the growing challenges and costs.

Dima and Sasha, a Ukrainian couple who are both 18, studied at Kharkiv University but were forced to flee to Poland when their university was being shelled.

Here, Sasha talks to her mum on Facetime. They haven't seen each other for months. They're worried her father is fighting near the frontline.

Tatiana and her family live in a small flat provided by the district government. They're trying to rebuild their lives after their home in Irpin was destroyed.

Her son Tomek is six and has Downs Syndrome. The trauma of what they've gone through weighs heavily on the family.

As Tomek plays with his Peppa Pig toy on the floor Tatiana talks of what they went through in Ukraine.

"Sometimes I think it's just a nightmare," she tells me.

"One of our neighbours was killed next to his house. He was buried in the yard.

"We had to go to the bomb shelter up to six times a night. Running up and down couple of times at night is very stressful."

But she's grateful for the help they've received in their new home.

"Everything we have got from people here. I want to say that we don't feel ourselves strangers here. People welcomed us with open arms," she said.

Agneizska Kosowicz, President of Poland Migration Forum, said: “It’s a challenge that no state has experienced in contemporary history. We have received more than three or four million people right now.

"Some have stayed, some have gone to other countries and some have gone home but the scale of what we have experienced is really without precedence."

Watch Neil's On Assignment report on ITV tonight (Tuesday 26 July) at 10.45pm or afterwards on the ITV Hub

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