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Stories that you confided to us

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‘Without me, my mum and brother wouldn’t survive’

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I was born here, in this settlement, I lived here, I worked at the local school. Our school doesn’t exist anymore, though. Afterwards, I worked as a secretary and as a pre-school teacher, I was looking after six-year-old kids. Then I went away to work, lived in Russia for 13 years. Eventually, I came here, in 2007, and started working at the mine. I worked there for a year and became disabled.

Spine problems... I haven’t been able to work for 10 years now, I live in that spinal support, I sleep and I walk around wearing it. I wouldn't wish something like that on my worst enemy, it’s really hard and painful. I spent six months at the hospital. And then doctors – a big thank-you to them – brought me back to health. Yet, I can’t work, it’s rather hard. My mum is quite elderly, she’s more than 80, and she has a heart condition. I have a brother, Serhiy, he’s 58, a bit older than me. Three years ago, he got paralysed, unable to speak, and had his leg amputated.

‘Without me, my mum and brother wouldn’t survive’

He saved my life once. We had a mine car filled with water for storage in our garden’s corner. He was a little boy then, around four years old. And I was one year old. Well, I plunged into that mine car, and he caught me by the leg. He was holding me tight and screaming, ‘Mum! Mum! Mum!’.

She responded first like, ‘Why are you screaming?’. And then she saw it... If not for him, guess, I wouldn’t even be here now. So I owe him my life. Now, I take care of him.

We’ve had those dreadful moments when they [missiles] were flying over our heads, when there was a shell hit on the neighbour’s vegetable garden – he lives just a few houses away, and when there was a hit on the front garden too. That’s been and is so scary. When you go somewhere in your own yard and the next moment you hit the ground and flatten out.

In the cellar, we have some food and other necessary things. We lived there for a while. But later, we stopped hiding in the cellar because, you know, my brother’s health got much worse then, and I realized it would be difficult to put him down there, so we stayed on the surface. So we were sitting and waiting while shellfire was thundering from time to time. We were so scared!

First, I had our window panes replaced – they were smashed by shelling, but eventually decided that I wouldn’t do anything like this anymore. Now, I just duct-tape them. There are cracks as wide as my palm. The roof is riddled with shrapnel holes like a sieve. Snow has started melting now and all that water is coming inside the house. The ceiling has fallen down in the bathroom, and yesterday it began leaking above the window in the kitchen. I go up to the roof on my own and check out. That’s how we are living now.

It’s really tough emotionally. I have meltdowns, I cry at times. I might sometimes raise my voice at brother, and then just think – why am I shouting at him? It’s not his fault. It’s just nerves, I’m having a hard time myself, I get exhausted.

We had been burning coal and wood in our stove until midwinter, until January. The subsidy wasn’t enough. I was in charge of our heating: I had to get up in the morning, go out and get some firewood, bring it in, fire the stove. And do it all day long. I usually chop firewood on my own. I just sit down and chop it. There is some firewood left, a little bit, but I think we’ll make it through somehow. I cut down our trees. We had an apricot tree and a nut tree in the garden, now they’re gone. I used them as firewood and burnt them in the stove. We ran out of coal then.

I’ve been saving on my mum’s pills. Her doctor prescribed to take them in the morning and in the evening. Today, these medicines have been removed from sale and replaced by some analogues. So mum splits every single pill in two because it takes a lot of money to buy medicines. I am old as well, you know, but that’s ok.

Many thanks to Rinat Akhmetov. I don’t really have words to express this gratitude. You may think that’s just an oil bottle, but in fact you need to go and buy it, and it costs now more than 30 hryvnias.

I mean, I have to choose what to buy – either an ointment for my brother or that oil bottle for cooking some food. That one oil bottle will suffice for a long time. And groats as well. And some spreads. That all is really good. I’m grateful. God bless this man. I have no words to say how grateful I am.

Guess it’s love what’s holding me here, because I love them, love them so much... They can’t do anything without me. I really love my mum. She’s done a lot for me. My brother’s done so much for me too. How could I leave them?

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 https://civilvoicesmuseum.org/

Rinat Akhmetov Foundation Civilian Voices Museum
Zheleznoye 2014 2015 Video Civilian's stories shelling safety and life support people with disabilities poor Food
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