At what stage in a woman’s life is she called upon to tap her deepest reserves of strength? It varies for all of us.

Let me introduce you to NEZLAMNA. This beautiful photo project features the portraits and stories of 18 Ukrainian women who are living in the UK as refugees. All of them have discovered inner resources they could never imagine. 

What does nezlamna mean? It’s a unique Ukrainian word meaning invincible, unbreakable, resilient. The word has taken on a special meaning for millions of Ukrainian women since the war began in February 2022. 

The women featured in the NEZLAMNA project are in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s. None had been planning to leave their country. They had the trappings of comfortable modern life – houses, cars, possessions – and, more importantly, they lived among communities and people they loved. Most of the women say their main reason for leaving was the safety of their children.

Each story is unique, but common threads emerge. Happy, fulfilling lives. Fear and disbelief when war breaks out. And then powerful journeys of courage, healing, and solidarity.

Tamara describes the pain of life under occupation and her daring escape. Olena shares her need to stay true to her creativity, curating beauty in her own daily life. In a stunning passage, Ilona tells us of the wedding dress she brought with her into exile…and of her plans to wear it again to celebrate Ukraine’s victory.

In many of the photo portraits, the women hold flowers. These symbols of fragile beauty can in fact, show remarkable resilience, standing tall in the harshest conditions. Likewise, the women of NEZLAMNA have faced life’s driving rain, and they’ve stayed strong, adapted to their new reality, and looked to the future without fear. 

As Yuliya writes in her story:

I’ve learned to ask for help and learned to accept it. I’ve learned to live without my country’s soil beneath my feet. I’ve accepted that life will never be the same again and learned to swim in this sea of ​​uncertainty. I’ve taught myself to knock on closed doors and keep knocking for as long as it takes.

I’ve been in crisis, but I’ve come out stronger than before. I feel completely alive, full of love for others and the world around me. And I believe that good will conquer evil, and love and life will conquer death.

NEZLAMNA was created by friends Vlada Stoliarov and Katia Duncan. Vlada is a London-based photographer who loves taking portraits of strong women. Katia is the founder of Trafalgar Girls, a volunteer project that’s helped thousands of Ukrainian refugees since the Russian invasion.

War has a way of making anyone feel despondent and powerless at times. But there are ways we can help! The NEZLAMNA project supports the Eneida Foundation, which provides vital humanitarian aid via their partner charities in Ukraine, supplying food packages, medical equipment, psychological support, and much more. You can support their work here.

Visit the website: NEZLAMNA

This community originated from my love for photography, fashion, lifestyle, and consciousness. After I turned 40 I started to miss inspiring websites with coolness and authenticity towards aging.