AS BOMBS rained down on Ukraine one young woman did the opposite of millions fleeing the country - she made the perilous journey to reunite with her mum.

Anastasiia Shovkoplias packed her bags in the middle of the night when news of the Russian invasion broke.

The 19-year-old was terrified when she realised friends and family were ‘being surrounded by hundreds of thousands’ of troops.

She had been studying IT at university in Bratislava, Slovakia, and was getting ready to take her exams.

She said: “On February 24, the war in my country started.

“The day before it all began I was getting ready to take my exams, while news about hundreds of thousands of Russian troops near the border with Ukraine was filling my phone.

“I could hardly sleep that night with all the news that I had been monitoring till late at night.

“Then I got a message from my mama saying ‘we are leaving the city… war has started’.

“It was terrifying to realize that all my family, friends, and everyone I had met throughout my life were being surrounded by bombs, troops, and military cars.

“My mama told me, that she started hearing explosions, and rushed to the window and saw people were leaving their houses, driving their cars away from the city.”

Anastasiia decided to make the dangerous journey to reunite with her mum, Maryna, in Ukraine.

She packed her backpack, laptop, pyjamas, and 20 euros and rushed to take a night bus.

She said: “When we got closer to the border with my country, I saw a huge queue of military vans at the border.

“As I crossed it, I saw a huge row of people from Ukraine trying to cross the border, while there weren’t any from the Slovak side apart from Red Cross workers and military.”

Anastasiia finally made it to the Ukrainian border city of Uzhorod.

She said: “I met my mama who was hiding in the dark in a little house with our two dogs in full darkness.

“She told me that everyday military planes had been flying very low above the houses and how it was forbidden to go outside after 8pm.

“I couldn’t believe that it was my country.

“We packed all the things she managed to gather, all the food we had left, and decided to cross to Slovakia on foot as those who were crossing it with cars had been waiting for days.

“We saw a huge Red Cross camp for people from Ukraine. Volunteers from all over Slovakia gathered to give medical and physical help.”

Anastasiia and her mum stopped in a refugee camp before making their way to Vienna, Austria.

Along with their Chihuahuas, Mike and Ella, they spent time in Germany, Belgium and France.

Maryna eventually saw the UK Government ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme online.

“It was a perfect chance for both of us to start a new life, as English was our main second language,” Anastasiia said.

The mother and daughter posted online that they were “looking for a place to stay in Britain. And a couple of days later got a reply that changed their lives”.

Anastasiia said: “A couple from Dibden Purlieu, a little village near Southampton, Barbara and Richard, offered to be our hosts. So, every evening of each day, we were talking about everything, and preparing documents to enter the country.

“I told them that I was a big of a fan of Harry Potter and they decided to buy tickets for all of us to the Harry Potter studio.”

Anastasiia, her mum, and two dogs, finally arrived in the UK on May 17 after catching a ferry from Caen in France.

Now in the UK and reflecting on the war, she said: “When you hear about it in your history books… when you read about it… how people live.

“It’s another thing when it happens in your country then you just can’t believe it.”

She now wants to “live a normal life, find a job and go to university” to study journalism.