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‘Drivers took white people and animals over us’: Indian student recounts racism while fleeing Ukraine

  • A student from India who left his family for Ukraine to attend university and find a better job says he experienced discrimination and robbery during the ongoing war.

  • Mohammad Sajid, 23, arrived in Kyiv in February to study at the National University of Physical Education and Sport and find a part-time job to support his family in India.

  • He and his friends encountered some challenges while trying to escape Ukraine because of the language barrier.

  • Sajid claims that the taxi “drivers took white people and animals over us.”

  • A local Good Samaritan helped Sajid escape to a refugee camp in Poland.

A student from India who left his family for Ukraine to attend university and find a better job says he experienced discrimination and robbery in the midst of an ongoing war.

Mohammad Sajid, 23, arrived in Kyiv in February to study at the National University of Physical Education and Sport and find a part-time job to be able to support his family in India. But they had no idea that a war would erupt in Ukraine a week later.

“It was hard going as I didn’t know the language and also how things work in Ukraine but one thing was for sure, I had left behind a country that I knew I could never progress in, where a culture of corruption means bribes often matter more than your skill set,” Sajid shared in an essay for Metro.

He and his friends encountered some challenges while trying to escape Ukraine because of the language barrier. He claimed taxis would charge Indians double the price, while white people only paid half.

“The drivers took white people and animals over us,” Sajid wrote. “I felt like an outsider – I had never experienced the scale of discrimination and racism I saw there – it was sickening and heart-breaking.”

Other locals were generous enough to offer money and food during Sajid’s nine-day journey from Kyiv to Lviv. He shared that he was robbed of his clothes and money while attempting to leave Kyiv, but a local Good Samaritan managed to help him escape to a refugee camp in Poland.

“It felt like crossing the border both practically and emotionally – it was quite stressful because I thought I may get stopped and then sent back,” he continued.

Sajid remains at the camp and has since received new clothes, money and food from Khalsa Aid, which provides humanitarian aid in disaster areas and civil conflict zones. He is now searching for a place to live as the camp has limited space, but he says he doesn’t feel Ukraine nor India is safe for him.

Sajid has since been in contact with his family, but he has barely gotten any sleep because of his memories from the first days of trying to flee from Kyiv. He hopes that both Ukrainian people and Indian students stranded in the country get the help and support they need.

“I hope I can find somewhere to go and that my life takes a positive turn but until then I am safe here and am really grateful for the support I have been given so far,” Sajid said.

“While I have concerns about my own future and other students – the main thing I pray for is the end of the war.”

 

Feature Image via Getty

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