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Ukrainian women share the realities of caregiving on the front lines of war

As Ukrainian men between the ages of 18 and 60 are mandated to stay and fight, women are left to care for their children, siblings, and parents. Alone.

As Ukrainian men ages 18 to 60 are mandated to stay and fight for their country as Russian forces continue to attack, women are left to care for children, siblings, and the elderly ... often alone.

More than 500,000 Ukrainians have fled to neighboring countries since Russia invaded. That number is only expected to rise, as Russian troops moved into Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city and home to more than 1.5 million people.

"It’s a dynamic situation," Kelly Clements, the U.N. Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees, said on Saturday. "We are really quite devastated, obviously, with what’s to come.”"

As the men of Ukraine and many women volunteers fight, women at home and in refuge are left to pick up the pieces, caring for family members, loved ones and the most vulnerable community members as the war rages on.

The unwavering daughter

Larysa, 34, whose last name has been withheld to protect her safety and the safety of her family, prepared for another night of bombing in her apartment in Kyiv, Ukraine, along with her father, 62, and her mother, 57.

As air raid sirens screamed in the background, Larysa shared that they have decided not to leave their home in Kyiv — her mother is in cancer remission, and must have constant access to her medication.

"It's a safe place at home because the nearest bomb shelter is a metro station, and it is full of people — too many people," Larysa told TODAY Parents via phone. "We checked all opportunities and (decided to) stay at home, far away from the windows. For us, it's safer than going to a bomb shelter."

There have been multiple reports of long lines at ATMs, emptied grocery stores, and packed pharmacies in cities across Ukraine, as residents stock up on food and supplies, unsure of what is to come.

"It's good that we had enough pills for two months," Larysa shared. "I know not all people have medicines that they need, and on (the first day of the attack) February 24, there were long lines at the pharmacy. Yesterday, not all pharmacies worked."

While Larysa believes in the Ukrainian military, she says on Saturday night she felt real fear for the first time, after the Ukrainian government warned those in Kyiv to prepare for "a hot night" of missile attacks.

The next morning, at 5:53 a.m. EST, Larysa shared video and pictures with TODAY, showing long lines at stores as Ukrainians once again walked the streets of their communities.

"Today, curfew time stopped until 5 pm in Kyiv, and people can go out to store, pharmacies, and all that," she said in the video.

The defiant mother

Khrystyna, a mother of three children in Kyiv who previously shared with TODAY how she was preparing her children for war, was able to make it as far as the Czech Republic, bordered by Poland, Slovakia, Austria, and Germany.

She says she tried to get to her sister in England, but was told "only with visas" but "with big sympathy." UK Home Security announced that while it has implemented a number of concessions for Ukrainians with valid visas currently in the UK, and will work to provide visas for dependents of British nationals living in Ukraine, "all other visa services in Ukraine have been suspended."

"I really beg you to do something for Ukraine, to stop this horror movie."

Khrystyna, a mother of three who fled Kyiv

Khrystyna said that it took her 21 hours to get to the Slovakian border, and 7 additional hours to cross.

“I feel how lucky my kids are that they’ve heard only one — the first — air strike alert in Kyiv,” Khrystyna told TODAY. “My friend Oksana called me at 6:32 a.m. to wake up. At 6:51 we were in a car. We were stuck in a traffic jam and heard first air strike alert. It was so scary that I only said, ‘So kids, no way to run, just close your eyes (and) ears.’”

As she cares for her three children, ages 13, 5, and 3, she fears for her family and friends who have remained in Ukraine.

"My pregnant friend is in Kyiv in a garage," Khrystyna told TODAY Parents, in a follow-up conversation via WhatsApp. "Family of two of the best musicians in Ukraine, are stuck in Kyiv with my 2-year-old goddaughter. My daughter's schoolmate's family has been sleeping, for three days underground. My uncle and his daughters and grandchildren are in Okhtyrka" in the northeastern region of Ukraine.

Her message to the world is simple: "I really beg you to do something for Ukraine, to stop this horror movie."

"Ukraine is being attacked by two countries, both Russia and Belarus!" Khrystyna exclaimed. "There are two enemies, two countries invading Ukraine. And both enemies are killing Ukrainians."

Russia conducted military drills in Belarus three weeks ago, and the Russian ground incursion into Ukraine was conducted from Belarus, allowing Russian soldiers to secure Chornobyl, a strategic military location.

"My children all the time say they want home," Khrystyna told TODAY on Tuesday morning via WhatsApp. "My pregnant friend is still in garage. Family of my uncle, my cousin with kids — all spent five days in a basement. I try to search different options for them, but everything changes every day."

The united communities

Larysa, the daughter staying in Kyiv with her mother and father, says that one thing the war has done is bring communities closer together.

"I'm so proud of my people, because we all help each other," she said on Sunday. "Before this, we all had some little daily conflicts. But now, everyone tries to help each other."

Larysa is still "working" during the war, contacting colleagues on a regular basis to make sure they're alive and that they have all the food, clean water and medicine they need.

On Tuesday morning, after Kharkiv endured another night of bombings and a 40-mile long Russian military convoy made its way toward Kyiv, Larysa said she had one thing on her agenda: work.

"I have some tasks to do," she told TODAY via WhatsApp on Tuesday morning. "We try to do everything we can to keep our team together and safe." Larysa had previously shared that instead of working in the communication sector for her employer, she now checks to make sure colleagues are alive, have what they need to survive, can flee safely if they choose, and are equipped with the necessary supplies to fight.

There have been multiple reports of ordinary citizens removing road signs to confuse Russian soldiers, staring down Russian tanks, and making molotov cocktails in preparation for additional attacks.

In Lviv, Ukrainian citizens are providing food and clothing for those who have fled or lost their homes. "We are sending the message that we are not alone and we can help each other and we are together," one volunteer told NBC's Tom Llamas.

"Even children are helping out in this effort," Llamas added.

"Now we stand like a shield for Europe," Larysa said. "Our army stands like shield for whole of Europe. And my biggest dream is Ukraine, free."