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Stories that you confided to us

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‘At first we did not understand that the children were injured’

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Olena Goncharenko, mother, 42 years old:

The roof of our neighbours' house saved us many times. It got to the neighbours, but it didn’t reach us.

We came to help my mother with the funeral. I took care of the paperwork. Our father was buried. He was 63 years old and he died after the fourth blood stroke.

In the morning my 19-year-old niece and I went to Kurakhove to take a death certificate. I returned home, took some food and we went out to pick some grass to feed the geese. We collected almost an armful and were about to go home, when suddenly we heard the sound of some kind of tracing fireworks in the distance. And we noticed from the end of the vegetable garden that something was smoking here. And the smell was like metal hitting the roofing tiles.

Гончаренко Елена и Иван

We ran here and it started! They [the shells] were flying here. The sound was similar to that of fireworks but rather hideous. We ran out of the yard and everything seemed to have calmed down. We ran out and stopped for two or three minutes to talk to our neighbour. And then it started again!

We wanted to return to the courtyard rushing through the gate. But Hanna, my 19-year-old niece, was down near the fence screaming to my son, ‘Vanya, get down!’ And he fell down near her, he covered her. They got hit. While my grandmother and I were standing at the gate. It seemed we managed to escape.

Гончаренко Елена и Иван

Son, Ivan Goncharenko, 14 years old:

There was no whistling. It just landed and that’s it. We were picking some grass for geese and goat kids. Suddenly we heard an explosion! Then I saw that the roof was in haze. We just wanted to go outside when it started again. Grandma said, ‘Lie down on the ground as shells will be flying now.’

Гончаренко Елена и Иван

Olena Goncharenko:

We didn’t realize it right away. We noticed that the children were injured only when we were in the house. We ran into the house and noticed that Tomochka, the younger one, was bleeding, and other children had blood on their clothes. They said that they did not feel any pain, did not feel anything. They did not understand anything. 

Hanna, the eldest, treated their wounds. We thought to go to the doctors in the morning. And then in about 20 minutes my child’s body temperature rose. I called an ambulance. They said, ‘We have shelling now. The military will come for you now, and they will take you to us. We do not go on calls during the shelling.’

Гончаренко Елена и Иван

We were glad that everyone was alive, thank God. After that we were shocked and perplexed.

The injuries were of moderate severity – the back side of the legs and the shoulder. A shell fragment in the shoulder was not taken out. It cut through quite deeply and is next to the artery, so the artery could be damaged. They got injections of antibiotics. They stayed in the hospital for two and a half weeks.

We are very thankful to the Rinat Akhmetov Humanitarian Center. I don’t know who gave them our phone numbers. I didn’t contact them. They found us themselves, they called us. Heartfelt thanks from a mother, words of gratitude to him that he does not forget us during all these years. He helps us. 

Rehabilitation is really important for us. So that the child could recover, rebound from all this. We don’t earn so much as to afford sending the child somewhere. Almost half of our family’s income is used to pay for the apartment. So, I am very glad that the child will have some rest, improve his health, rebound from all this a little, because the physical injury will heal sooner or later, but the moral, emotional trauma may remain for many years. He suffered a fright, a feeling of fear.

We left three years ago because of the hostilities. Buses stopped going to the mine, and I moved to another department at my work. We barred up the windows and doors in the house. The shells hit the roof and the corner of the house. The house is not suitable for living, to say the least. There are mines in the vegetable garden. We are afraid to even mow the grass in the yard because we found a trip wire between the kitchen and the apricot tree.

My family still lives here. My mother is accustomed to it. She is our heroic grandmother. And this is still my hometown. I used to come here, I come here now and I will be coming here again and again.

When quoting a story, a reference to the source – the Museum of Civilian Voices of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation – is mandatory, as follows:

The Museum of Civilian Voices of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation

Rinat Akhmetov Foundation Civilian Voices Museum
Marinka Video Civilian's stories children moving destroyed or damaged housing wounded psychological injury shelling loss of loved ones safety and life support
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