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Stories that you confided to us

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Olena Lebedeva

“People hope and believe that there will be no need to be afraid of night shelling or the future”

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Before the war, life was in full swing in the village: shops, a post office, a first-aid post, and a school-garden worked. There was Internet, a new water conduit, and a shuttle bus. These days, it is a ghost village.

 It is an ordinary village on the outskirts of the city. Ordinary people with their joys and sorrows live there. Ordinary houses with gardens, and vegetable gardens. It just so happened that the war in this small and cosy village knocked on every door and affected every family.

As it turned out, this village of Opytne, Donetsk Oblast,  is located in a dangerous proximity to the Donetsk Airport.

Abandoned and broken houses, grassy overgrown courtyards, ragged wires, a broken gas pipeline, destroyed transformers, mutilated trees, many shell craters. We have killed and wounded residents. It has been three years since we had electricity, gas, water. Cars are not allowed to enter. There is no access to the police, ambulance, fire service, post office, emergencies office does not work, as well as shops. There is no local authority, life has stopped.

At this moment in time, 43 people live in the village, 18 in the private sector and 25 in apartments.

Many people do not understand us and even condemn us, but this is our choice, we could not leave our homes, despite the fact that living in the village is really very difficult.

The only connection with the outside world is the nearest settlement, the city of Avdiivka. The road is trailed by residents through the fields (6–7 km). We use it to buy bread, food, medicine, get to work (three people remain employed).   

In bad weather, the road becomes unsuitable for movement, and then the village remains completely cut off. Residents are left one on one with their problems and difficulties.

The village was hit hard, especially the private sector. The streets are hard to recognise. Many houses were completely destroyed. People have nowhere to go back to, their houses were destroyed. Some families split up.

I live with my husband and son in the village of Opytne, We rent an apartment for mum and daughter in Avdiivka since my daughter is a schoolgirl. On summer holidays, she lives with us, in Opytne where she is the only child in the village. Residents of the private sector more than half the retirement age (many are over 70).

Despite the difficult situation, people can patch their houses on their own efforts, plant gardens, prepare for the next winter. But  they wish to have peace every day, every night, every minute.

They hope and believe that their native village will live again. They wish gardens would bloom again, children would run and laugh, streets would be busy, and there would  be no need to be afraid of night shelling or the future. That, finally, they wish that shell holes would disappear in the wounded land. It is indeed hard to live in the village now both physically and mentally.

We appreciate  what the humanitarian organizations do to support us. Despite the difficult situation, the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation employees bring food packages to the village. We appreciate their work and humanity. We would like to express gratitude to Rinat Akhmetov for his indifference and support in such difficult situation. We manage to live owing to such organizations and their assistance.


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
Opytne 2017 Text Civilian's stories
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