Displaced Ukrainians adorn Easter eggs for soldiers on the front

·2-min read

Inside a quiet restaurant in western Ukraine, displaced baker Olena trailed a wax-covered needle over a boiled egg to send a message to a soldier fighting the Russians.

"Glory to Ukraine," the 50-year-old from the southern port city of Odessa wrote, before dipping the Easter egg in blue ink.

She held the egg over a flame, then carefully wiped off the melted wax.

"The most important thing right now is for Ukraine to win," she said, moved to tears in her white apron and hair net.

"These eggs will be sent to the soldiers on the frontline."

Tens of thousands of Ukrainians have settled in the western city of Lviv, and many more have transited through on their way abroad, since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

In a popular Georgian restaurant on Wednesday, more than a dozen women and children decorated boiled eggs and iced traditional Easter breads in yellow and blue, the colours of the national flag.

Orthodox Easter falls on Sunday, and they had baked 290 cakes in two days to be blessed by the military chaplains in the country's east, before the troops could bite into the sweet bread interspersed with dried fruit.

- 'Proud of you' -

The volunteers had wrapped up the loaves in sheets of plastic and ribbon, attaching a hand-written note to each.

"We are proud of you. Sending you hugs," read one, signed by a woman from the eastern city of Kharkiv near the Russian border.

"You're the best. Ukraine's army will win," read another.

Anastasia Rozhkova, a displaced law student, said the inspiration had come easily.

"I sat down and wrote 15 messages in three seconds, because I was imagining what I would tell the person if they were in front of me," said the 20-year-old from the eastern region of Donetsk, twice uprooted by conflict since 2014.

"I wrote from the heart."

She said her mother and two younger siblings had fled to safety in France, but she had stayed behind to help other displaced families.

Yuliya, a 44-year-old economist also from Donetsk, watched as her seven-year-old son Ivan dipped his second Easter egg into a bowl of blue dye.

They had fled to Lviv at the start of the conflict, she said, while the national basketball federation had whisked her 17-year-old son and his teammates away to Latvia.

Her voice broke as she described seeing the advertisement on social media for the Easter drive of eggs, cakes, shaving kits and warm socks.

"I knew I had to come," she said.

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