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UK teacher who fled Ukraine still has bad dreams

2023-06-08 02:08:45 [news] source:Al Jazeera

A British man who fled Ukraine after being forced to shelter from Russia's invasion said he still has bad dreams about his experiences.

Harry Richardson escaped the war-torn country and returned to his home town of Leek, Staffordshire, with his Ukrainian wife, Alina.

The 63-year-old had been living and teaching in Ukraine for more than three years when war broke out.

But almost a year since his return, he said he was still a "bit afraid".

"It's been more difficult than I imagined it would be," he told the BBC. "Not settling in, but leaving the memories behind."

"I'm absolutely delighted to be back home, it's wonderful," he continued.

"But, and my wife doesn't really even know this, I have the occasional, I wouldn't say nightmare, but bad dream where I still imagine I'm there.

"I think also, psychologically, it's left me a little bit afraid, a little bit delicate."

Mr Richardson and his wife fled Ukraine through Moldova, along with her daughter and grandson after sheltering in a basement beneath a school.

He said his experience "had more of an impact than I initially thought it had".

"I was sitting in our house doing some work three months ago and some fireworks went off unexpectedly and I almost jumped out of my skin," he said.

"It was a reminder of what had been."

Mr Richardson has since returned to teaching, including online classes for children who lived in the same town as he did in Ukraine.

He said Alina had been "very strong" since being forced to leave her home country, but had managed to return to see her family and "put her mind at rest a little bit".

"She's been far stronger than I have," he added.

Mr Richardson said he and his wife were undecided about whether to return to Ukraine when the war ends.

"That will have to be a serious and long conversation," he said.

"My wife of course will want to move back there. It's her home, her family is there.

"Part of me says 'no, no, no, I want to stay here where I am, in England, everything I'm used to, my friends, my family' as it were… but obviously, my wife...

"So it is a decision that I'm not even thinking about making yet."

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