Stories that you confided to us

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Stories that you confided to us

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Yana Mykolaivna Demchenko
age: 35
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"A friend looked at my daughter and said, "Masha is covered in blood!"

She was walking with her daughter on the street when Mariupol was shelled. Her three-year-old girl was injured. Thanks to acquaintances, they got to the hospital, where the child was taken care of.

My child almost didn't cry, just said, "It hurts." We sat in the entrance and called an ambulance, but could not call – there was no connection. We also tried to call a taxi. Luckily, we got through. We began to persuade them to come and pick us. I said, "I have a wounded child, I need at least to get to the hospital, that's all I am asking." The taxi driver could not come.

"We took the first volleys for thunder"

I've lived in Skhidnyi District since I got married. I had a baby in 2011 and went on maternity leave. When Masha went to kindergarten, I worked a little, but mostly I continued to look after the child.

At first, we learned what was happening in Kyiv from the news. Everyone thought it would end there. Then I started getting information from my husband's brother. He lived in Luhansk. It all started from there. He said that some troops came to them and he did not know what was what. They took their daughter to the village just in case. We surfed social networks.

But when we heard the first volleys sounds, it seemed like thunder to us. You can't understand the threat, even though you see on TV what is happening to people, and what kind of attacks there are, and how scary, and how people are suffering.

A friend looked at my daughter and said,

And then there was the first attack. It did not hurt people. Buildings, however, were destroyed. There was an ambulance on the Skhidnyi District, near the bus stop. A shell hit it. It was very audible, our windows were shaking. We heard this humming noise.

That was the first time we were really scared. We waited out the night while all this was happening. Fields were bombarded heavily. Everything was shaking! We told the children it was thunder. There was a lot of smoke. In the morning, I took my three-year-old daughter and went to the center of the city to my mother, where I could not hear anything.

We returned soon after, thinking it was an isolated incident. You always hope for the best. And then the grandiose attacks began.

A friend looked at my daughter and said,

"It was so quiet, almost unusual"

At first, it was not clear where the projectile was coming from. In course of time, you begin to learn  the direction it might hit. You hear the same Grads or a machine gun is working somewhere. When there is a strong wind, it brings sound here, it is very audible. But do not be afraid, because it is far away. Everyone learned as best they could. It is impossible to tell it in words until you hear it and feel on your skin. 

Things settled a bit after the New Year's Eve. We even thought for a moment that maybe everything was over. It was so quiet, almost unusual. We walked normally, no one was afraid of anything any more. People got used to hearing explosions all the time.

"I look up and see a projectile flying!"

We went out for a walk with a friend and children at 7:00 a.m. We had no light or water, so we went out. The children just woken up early.

We walked 10 steps and heard the sounds of volleys. We decided to go further. Then I looked up – a shell was flying directly into the 14-storey building. I  was standing right next to it with a child! And it starts to fall. You can't understand it, you just a buzz in your ears. I picked up the baby and ran. We hid. A friend looked at my daughter and said, "Masha is covered in blood!" 

A friend looked at my daughter and said,

I glanced at her hand. I could not figure it out. I thought it was a cut. So I said; "Masha, now we'll patch you up and that's it." What was there left to do? People all ran. They run with terror in their eyes. Everything is burning, everything is in smoke. Someone lay down... I didn't look, I just wanted to save my baby. I noticed something sticking out of the palm of my hand. I thought the glass had fallen. I couldn't get it out and I knew something was wrong.

My child almost didn't cry, just said, "It hurts." We sat in the entrance and called an ambulance, but could not call – there was no connection. We also tried to call a taxi. Luckily, we got through. We began to persuade them to come and pick us. I said, "I have a wounded child, I need at least to get to the hospital, that's all I am asking." The taxi driver could not come. 

But we were lucky. A neighbor with a child, a good friend of mine, came down from the 8th floor. I said, "I need to go to the hospital urgently." And she offered to drive me there. We were so lucky that she came. 

"Many injured children were brought  in the hospital"

We waited a long time in the hospital, because there were many injured children. First, Milana, a girl who was left without a leg, had a surgery. We were next in line. My daughter was under an IV. She could not be given any water, only moist her lips. She was in shock. That is why, she didn't cry. No emotions on her face. It was green. 

The operation lasted two hours. After I heard what happened to Milana, I was very afraid that my child would be left without a hand. I didn't know how it would end. But it ended well. Yes, there are scars, but she may not have any emotional trauma, because she perceives this world in a slightly different way than adults. 

A friend looked at my daughter and said,

"I couldn't come to my native district for a year – my nerves gave out"

I did not live in Skhidnyi District for a year. I just couldn't stay here. If I came here, my nerves gave out. My hands were shaking. I was walking home and I was just shaking… I remembered everything... How everyone ran, everything was on fire. I didn't look at anything else but my baby. I am often asked, "Have you seen any corpses?" And I said, "I saw that people were running, that was it." The minibuses were all packed. I didn't see any people lying on the street. I saw burning houses, it was scary. At that moment, I probably didn't realize all that had happened. I thought only of my daughter. So that she was all right, so that she was alive and well. 

A friend looked at my daughter and said,

Later, when I came to collect my documents and belongings, I realised the tragedy. It took me a long time to come to my senses. It's been over a year since we've lived here, and I haven't slept at night. And Masha had nightmares. The child depends on her mother. And if mother cannot sleep and she has very bad thoughts, then the child begins to have very bad dreams.

I had to see a psychologist. I couldn't get over it any other way. I had panic attacks. I started twitching just like that. Once our lights were turned off. And I sat like a statue until it was turned on. I prepared my bags and waited for something to happen.

But I talked to a psychologist and I felt better. I realised that it could be good, or it could be bad. And how it will be, it does not depend on me in any possible way. 

A friend looked at my daughter and said,

"My daughter's nightmares have passed, but there is still a fear of a thunderstorm"

The Rinat Akhmetov Foundation helps us. Once we got to the hospital, we have been supported by them, constantly. It was very timely. They brought us all the medicines. Then when I needed something else, they called from the Foundation and  communicated with my child. There was a psychologist, too.

When we were discharged from the hospital, the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation constantly called to ask how Masha was feeling herself and what else did she need. They offered to undergo rehabilitation. And this is the fourth year we've been doing it. I'm very grateful, I couldn't have done it on my own.  This is a tremendous help. Both for us and for other people I've talked to. This is a huge help for everyone.

A friend looked at my daughter and said,

We don't discuss this case with Masha. First of all, she doesn't remember much any more, she was only three years old at the time. She thinks we went out to buy some sausage. She knows that she is injured, that she was in the hospital, that she goes to rehabilitation, that she needs to work on her arm. But there are no more nightmares, fears any more. The only fear remained is the fear of thunderstorm. If we hear thunder, she gets very scared.

A friend looked at my daughter and said,

I dream of peace so that I do not fear for my child. To live in a beautiful, bright world. So she wouldn't be scared.

I can't even let her go to school alone in case something happens. Anything can happen at any moment. I would like her to go out and not worry. I'm always so tense as a soldier. You stand there and see if everything is normal.

I want calm, peace and prosperity. 

A friend looked at my daughter and said,
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