'Please stay strong.' For loved ones ripped apart by war in Ukraine, phone messages bring hope and despair
Updated 6:04 AM ET, Sat March 12, 2022
Lviv, Ukraine — In the midst of a days-long, chaotic cross-country train ride to the northwestern city of Lviv, near Ukraine's border with Poland, a terrible realization dawned on Marina.
The 54-year-old carer, who managed to evacuate an orphanage in a besieged industrial town in the eastern Luhansk province, had no way to return to her own family.
Marina, who did not give her surname, was still reeling from the journey -- days spent desperately trying to calm the panic-stricken children in her care against the backdrop of booms and thuds of Russia's brutal assault, while still fearing for her family at home.
"And now I am all alone," Marina told CNN from a daycare center-turned-shelter in Lviv, where she and the children from her orphanage were camped out. "I have left my own (adult) children to save the children in the orphanage."
CNN is not disclosing Marina's full name because of the risks to her family who have not been evacuated.
The fracturing of families underpins many of the stories of displacement in Ukraine