Displaced Ukrainians Decorate Easter Eggs for Frontline Soldiers

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Lviv (Ukraine) (AFP) – In a quiet restaurant in western Ukraine, displaced baker Olena dragged a wax-covered needle over a boiled egg to send a message to a soldier fighting the Russians.

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

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

“The most important thing right now is that Ukraine wins,” she said, moved to tears in her white apron and hairnet.

“These eggs will be sent to the soldiers on the front line.”

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

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

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

‘Proud of you’

The volunteers had wrapped the loaves in plastic sheets and tape, attaching a handwritten note to each.

“We are proud of you. Hugs to you,” read one, signed by a woman from the eastern city of Kharkiv, near the Russian border.

“You are the best. The Ukrainian army will win,” read another.

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

Ukrainian women and children decorated Easter eggs at a restaurant in the western city of Lviv, part of a campaign to send Easter eggs, cakes, shaving kits and warm socks to soldiers Alice HACKMANAFP

“I sat down and wrote 15 messages in three seconds, because I was imagining what I would say to the person if they were in front of me,” says 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 fled to safety in France, but she stayed to help other displaced families.

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

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

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

“I knew I had to come,” she said.

Alicia R. Rucker