Stories from the Front

Stories of Children in Eastern Ukraine

Our relief network in Eastern Ukraine sends us stories about their lives and the impact on children. Here is a collection of six short vignettes from the front. Note: These are sent in Ukrainian. We do minimal editing to the translation.

  • The war, which began for the East of Ukraine in the 14th year, drove the family out of the house when the one-year-old Yulechka, due to the terrible roar of rockets and shelling, stopped talking and looked at one place, as if she was not alive. She did not react at all, but the eldest, daughter Alyona, who was six, experienced the shelling no less hard. There was no electricity, gas, water, silence. The family was waiting for the opportunity to leave, because the old car was parked in the garage near the grandmother’s house. But a missile that flew into the apartment below them and tore apart the neighbors, forced the family to run downstairs, and shout to God. They covered the children’s faces so they wouldn’t see the torn, bleeding neighbors on the front steps.

    The family somehow found a hut without amenities in the village of Novoselivka, where they somehow recovered, worked, and helped the children recover. They dreamed of buying a house and finishing it. But – war again. But again – fugitives in the same car, leaving under heavy fire, with a grandmother who almost lost her mind from grief and fear, and a kitten in a basket.

    A lot more could be said about Yuli’s family, but it is important to note that they do not lose heart. They take turns taking care of their grandmother (Ivan’s mother, their father), who cannot be left alone even for a moment, they try to help other immigrants, because there are always those who have a harder time than you.
  • The family lived in a beautiful, blooming town – Maryinka, they raised little, older Masha, they dreamed of finishing their house, planting more trees in the garden. But the incoming projectile, which almost killed them early in the morning during Russian shelling, destroyed the house. The family in grandfather’s old car, loaded the children and ran away without their belongings.
    And right and left were burning at homes.

  • There was no connection, explosions were everywhere, mines were flying through a car with children, which could hardly pass. On the way, they had to go around burning cars, in which people died from a direct hit by a shell.
    Children were pressed face down into the car seat so that they would not see or hear the horror around.

    The shock from the experience, from the loss, and they worked hard to settle down in Ugledar.
    The family moved to Ugledar, 10 km from Maryinka, because old grandparents remained in Maryinka, who believe that their house and cellar can save them. Didn’t save. (((
    Grandmother died after another shelling, and grandfather had a heart attack and a serious stroke.  A year ago, the family again hid from shelling in the cold basement of a multi-storey building. Together with neighbors, they cooked food on a fire, and they took water from the heating system of the house, there was nowhere else.
    The girls, being constantly in winter clothes, often cried, cuddling up to their mother, and asked when they would go home to themselves, on the eighth floor, to their warm beds.

    And around more and more often enemy explosions were heard. There was practically no connection, in order to make a call, one had to go up to the roof of the ninth floor, there, in one place, the connection was caught. Tanya agreed to go with the children. It’s hard to start life from scratch for the third time, having nothing, no housing, no clothes, no work. But most importantly, we are alive! Children are recovering slowly, the eldest goes to school. And we believe that soon the war will end and we will be able to return home. I know that Ugledar is destroyed in the same way as Maryinka. But I often dream of my native places, children’s toys left there, at home .. Grandfather and grandmother are smiling, but who will never hug me or my children.

  • At the age of five and a half, little Kiryusha knows what other adults have only seen in the movies. He knows what projectile is flying, where and whether it will fall far or near, how the ground hums and trembles under his feet, and the walls of their old house become as if made of plasticineIn the most terrible moments, he knows that he must hide his face under his blouse and loudly ask God for help, then it is not so scary.  Mom almost does not talk about what she experienced, because it is very difficult to remember everything, how they were saved by the military, how they drove in a military car among the burning Maryinka, and mines immediately flew into their house behind them.

  • We, our team, who served in Mariintka, took care of this family all the years since Kiryusha was born, helped as much as we could. They always tried to please the baby, helped with clothes, food, and toys. Therefore, now I also decided to buy clothes for the child, which he needs so much, to be sure that the 50 dollars will be used usefully for the child. The family now lives together with other people who also fled the war in a psycho-neurological dispensary, where they were given shelter, in rooms for ten to twelve people. The family was forced to flee. For several years they lived in the town of Kurakhovo, it is 10 km from the front line. When the heavy shelling began, there was no water, electricity, or heat in the town, and the grandmother’s house was bombed, and she left with the children. Now they live in Cherkasy, but there was nothing for the children to sleep on. My good friend found in Kyiv kind people who were ready to give three children cots. But everything was complicated by the shipment, for which it was necessary to pay a large sum of money. It was 50 dollars that went to the shipment, it was you, friends, who gave such a wonderful gift to the children: the opportunity to get beautiful beds! Thank you so much for this!


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