Hello. My name is Agnes Toth. I was born in Hungary in the 80s before the iron curtain fell. I grew up in a village on the outskirts of Budapest. My own family has a long history of suffering under Soviet oppression.

My grandparents were farmers when the Russians came to ‘liberate’ us. They lost everything they had: first their food when Russian soldiers pointed their guns at them to hand over every food in the house they had; then the army came and took all their wheat for the entire year leaving the family to starve with children in the family. My grandfather’s sister, a teenage girl at the time, has been traumatized for her life by something the family never spoke about… She developed serious paranoia and not having had much needed support back then, never returned to a healthy mental state. Only as an adult could I start imagining what may have happened to her during the Russian invasion, what the family’s reasons might have been to never talk about the incident…

Then during the communism the Russian took all their land and made them sign ‘voluntarily’ a document to give up everything they owned, for it all to go to the Soviet cooperatives. They lost their land, their house, their animals. Everything they worked very very hard for.

In ’56 there was a bloody revolution in Hungary when the country wanted their independence back. Our efforts were met by Russian tanks invading the country. My mum as a young child remembers the tanks entering the boarder. The very same borders where now thousands of Ukrainian refugees are crossing to find safety in Hungary. My mother’s town in fact is only a few kilometers from Hungary-Ukraine border and the streets she grew up in are now flooded with Ukrainian mothers and children fleeing to safety.

Outside the village where I grew up, there was a Russian military air base. I remember to this day the ear piercing noise fighter jets were making every day above our houses practising and keeping peace (?). I remember the fear I felt if accidentally I saw a Russian soldier in the village. I remember always having a plan as a child where to hide if war broke out… Not something any child should ever think about.

Fear of Russian invasion is in my blood. In the collective memory of Hungarians. It is not something I only read about in history books.

I have now been living in Cambridge UK for over a decade. I worked for a number of charities in the East of England and now in my current role at Cambridgeshire County Council I support many community groups and charities in the county. Community has always been something that meant a lot to me. Diversity, everyone’s wish to be the person they want to be has always been something I was ready to stand up for and fight against oppression.

When this terrible war in Ukraine started my whole body just remembered that fear of a Russian invasion. I’m lucky to be here, in safety. But I want to do everything I possibly can to help Ukrainians fight and survive Putin’s war. A wish to become a truly independent country is a human right.

I’m organising a silent auction with Cambridge Mums Unite for Ukraine and I’m incredibly grateful to all the individuals and businesses offering incredible items and services to support us. All the money raised through the auction will help Migration Aid in Hungary, a small volunteer led group offering accommodation, transport and more to Ukrainian refugees. Please watch this space!

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