To flee your home: Alina shares her extraordinary journey to escape the war in Ukraine

17 May 2023

Alina Avershina, who currently works for RSA as an Administrative Assistant Digitalisation in Belgium, is originally from the eastern part of Ukraine, Lugansk, in the Donbas region. 

In 2014, when the conflict with Russia originally started, she was living with her family in the south of the country. However, in view of the situation and despite the risks, her parents decided they had to return to defend their homeland.

On 24 February 2022, the day the conflict began, Alina and her husband decided to leave that same morning for Moldova with their four-year-old daughter out of fear that the government would quickly close the borders.

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To try to ensure a successful crossing, the family made the agonising decision to separate. After waiting for several long hours, they finally arrived and reunited in Moldova, where they spent three days.

Realising they needed to get as far away from the danger as possible, they then had a long and arduous journey, crossing multiple borders through Romania, Slovakia and Germany, until finally arriving in Belgium. 

There, they received help to find temporary accommodation. Alina found a contract at a temporary work agency as she had the immediate need to work and try to provide for the family self-sufficiently.

When RSA in Antwerp had a vacancy for a Claims Digitisation Project Administrator for a period of about six months, the temporary work agency proposed Alina. RSA was happy to be able to support a refugee and offered Alina the contract. She started working in the team in July 2022.

Alina settled well into the team and after completing the six-month project, RSA’s management team recognised Alina's potential and sought to find a new opportunity to retain her. She was offered a new role as a temporary underwriting assistant. 

Since then, Alina, together with her husband and young daughter, have been able to move from their temporary accommodation to a new flat. Alongside her professional growth, Alina’s language skills have drawn attention, rapidly progressing in English and even starting a Dutch language course.

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Alina said: “I’m happy that RSA has given me a chance to work and develop in a new field - I feel that I am living again. Some things I’ve learned from this journey are that it’s important to live in the here and now, to keep smiling, to tell your family more often that you love them and never give up!"

In March, she had to return to Ukraine for a few days for administrative purposes. To accompany her, RSA organised a collection of essential materials, including medical supplies and batteries, and covered the shipping costs. Additionally, a client of RSA Belgium that manufactures candles kindly offered some boxes of candles to be included in the shipment. 

This act of kindness and solidarity demonstrated the strength of our working community and our capacity to come together and achieve extraordinary things in times of need.

My heart goes out to all people forced – whether by violence, climate or simple survival – to make the unthinkable decision to leave their homes, livelihoods and loved ones and take the enormous risk of relying on, or even hoping for, the kindness of strangers. Thank you for sharing your story Alina and to all the people who continue to help her and her family resettle in safety.
Ken Norgrove - Chief executive officer, UK&I
Alina’s journey to escape the war in Ukraine serves as a powerful reminder of the resilience and determination of individuals in the face of adversity. Her story inspires us to come together as a community, supporting and uplifting one another, and showcasing the extraordinary things we can achieve when we stand united.
Lynn O’Leary - Chief Executive Officer, RSA Luxembourg