The suburban hypermarket in Zaporizhzhia is a strange, if not extraordinary place.
Like any shed-like supermarket, you see people grabbing trolleys and food from the isle as they park.
Alternatively, if you’ve been there for the past four weeks, you’ve seen thousands of people in crowded cars, dragging in car parks, climbing through doors, and staring at them in disbelief.
The latest update on the war in Ukraine
The supermarket has been turned into a stage for 60,000 people fleeing the country’s southeast.
Getting to the center is not easy. Most people spend the day trying to get to Zaporizhia – the city is their first stop in the Ukrainian-controlled territory.
For Mariupol residents, the supermarket has become a beacon of light after spending weeks in the ruins of their town.
It is estimated that 100,000 or more people are still trapped in the rubble, and efforts by local government officials and international NGOs to organize eviction convoys have largely failed.
A convoy of buses arrived in the Russian-controlled city of Bardiansk, bringing 2,300 people back to Zaporizhiya, but an attempt by the International Committee of the Red Cross to take 54 vehicles to Mariupol failed.
A spokesman for the ICRC said the parties were unable to “provide the necessary conditions and security guarantees”.
For the most part, those who managed to escape have been involved in removing them from their jobs.
Some have cars or some have vehicles and others have been driven out by brave volunteers.
We met Maria Zimmerman, a mother of two who owns a pit-up van and has an extraordinary sense of responsibility.
He is driving to Mariupol to pick up the sick and injured while leading a civilian convoy outside the city.
As a former resident, he says he knows exactly what they’re going through.
“Did you drive to Mariupol?” I asked as he got out of his white van.
“Yes,” he replied in a realistic manner.
“It’s very brave.”
“Yes, but this is not the first time,” he added.
“Are you allowed to enter the city by the Russian military?” I asked.
“No, it was my decision, but when I sat in a shelter with my husband and my kids, we promised each other that we would help people like us.”
Read more: Sky News team’s disappointing account of their violent attack in Ukraine
I asked Maria about the journey she had just finished.
“The entrance to Mariupol is really scary because they are conducting a military operation. There are Chechens, (Ramadan) Kadyrov’s sons, it’s scary.
“It simply came to our notice then. (Russian soldiers) checked everything and they took our phones and money, so yes, it was uncomfortable. “
With that, she smiled and got back into the van but one member of her convoy, Katrina, said she needed to add something.
Subscribe to Storycast 21 now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Speaker
“Thanks a lot to Maria, we couldn’t get out on our own. We don’t know the road, no (road) signs. We drove under the shells, around the minefield. I just want to salute her.”
“He’s really brave and he’s driving himself in front of a column of male drivers.”
“Can you do it?” He asked.