She did not leave her native village until the last minute, but when her house burned down after a shell attack, she was forced to leave her home and go into nowhere ...
In May, on memorial Saturday before Trinity Sunday, neighbor Vanya brought water and left. Then I suddenly heard something rattling, moaning, knocking. I went out to see that this was Vanya back. There was blood on his shoe. I asked, "God, what happened? Did you fall or something?" "No," he said, "A sniper hit me in the leg and knocked my finger off." His toe on his right leg was damaged.
We lived in Shyrokyne. It was a normal family. We didn't live in great prosperity, but we had everything we needed — from a needle to a shovel. We had a refrigerator, and TV, and everything we needed. Children went to school. Our street was called Myra. It was friendly. Neighbors would gather up on holidays.
I had been working at a fish shop lately. My daughter Larysa and my neighbor worked there, too. Then I retired and worked as a security guard on a collective farm for eight years.
Did we think that we would live like this in old age? That we would live like this, knocking about. We rent this house in Mariupol for two and a half thousand UAH. It's old and rusty. When it rains, water pours in, especially in the bedroom. We live with our daughter Larysa, her roommate, with my grandson and my sister Anya. And granddaughter Katya studies in Kharkiv.
On the fourth of August, the first shots were fired. I was going to the garden, and my neighbor Oleksandra asked, "Grandma Raya, where are you going? Novoazovsk is full of military equipment." I said, "Shura, it's not here, it's in Novoazovsk." So i went to my garden. And she continues, "I beg you and your daughter, Nastinka not to go there, they will shoot!" I said, "What are you, Shurka, even talking about? Who's going to shoot?"
I went to the garden, pulled weed and sat on a bench. Then I noticed my neighbor. Suddenly I heard a sound: something like a noise, whistling… I looked up – something was flying. I saw how the neighbor ran into the yard. I kept sitting ans watching whether they will fly or not… Oh, then something horrible happened! It hit the second time! I left the hoe in the garden and never went there again. The second hit reached the kindergarden. It was damaged, the store, the windows were blown out. Well, that is how it began.
Before that, granddaughter Katya was going to Kharkiv on 25 July. And on 23 July, Larysa arrived, grabbed whatever she could and said, "Let's go! They have closed the highway to Donetsk, we will go through Berdianske." So she took Katya.
Things settles a bit after that blow. It started again after 12 February. Total terror began. Many people were taken out, and we sat there, we didn't even know who was being taken out… The OSCE came and asked, "What are you doing here?" I asked, "What is exactly the matter? We live here." "Why didn't you leave?" "Where to?" I asked.
My daughter Larysa came by car to pick us up. And my sister Anya said, "I'm not going anywhere. I will die here. My daughter begged her on her knees. How could we leave her? Anya refused! Larysa left, the neighbor left, took her mother, and we stayed. There are 19 people left in the village.
Then all this holy mess began. Oh Lord! Roofs rising, slate nails sticking like mushrooms. The slate was completely broken, only nails remained unharmed. The lights were turned off in February, as well as gas, water and other utilities. I cooked food outside. We put two concrete slabs and cooked food on the grill from the refrigerator.
We have soldiers — whether DNR or Ukrainian, I do not know. The went to school through the garden. There they a guarding point of some kind there… They always came in and asked, " Lady, do you need anything?" I said, "We need water."
In May, on memorial Saturday before Trinity Sunday, neighbor Vanya brought water and left. Then I suddenly heard something rattling, moaning, knocking. I went out to see that this was Vanya back. There was blood on his shoe. I asked, "God, what happened? Did you fall or something?" "No," he said, "A sniper hit me in the leg and knocked my finger off." His toe on his right leg was damaged. We had everything — antiseptic green dye, solution of brilliant green, iodine, gauze, and bandages. I treated his wound — poured iodine on it and bandaged it. She found sneakers and socks and equipped him. And walked away.
I heard a knock 15 minutes later again. I thought that Vanya was back. It turned out to be Kolya, my brother's son, my nephew. He came up, holding his belly, all covered in blood. It was pouring… The sniper hit him in the stomach, the bullet went out in the groin.
He was so pale. So I tried to debride the wound. I asked, "Where is Valentina?" This is his wife. She said, "She crawled home. A bullet hit her leg. Bone was affected." I said, "It would be better if you both crawled here, now I have to worry." I put him to bed and gave him painkillers.
In the morning he asked, "Aunt Raya, I'll go home and check on Valentina." I wondered ,"Can you even walk? Come on, I'll do it myself." "No, I won't let you go, just the two of us." So we went. I looked down the alley, thinking that he neighbour was there… Did some dog bring a bag or something? And there were many dogs! That was horrible.
I led Kolya away. It turned out that wife had bandaged the wound herself. On my way back I saw this bright spot. I came home and thought again what it was. I went to see the neighbors. I said, "Girls, Vanka was hit in the leg yesterday. Kolka is injured, Valka is injured, too. What should we do? Vanka's leg is bad." And they answered, "The soldiers have already sent Vanka to Novoazovsk at night. And they will take these two as well." And then they told me, "Hrisha was killed. He went to meet Vanya. He walked 100 meters from the house, and two shots were fired in his back. Hrisha lay there, and you could not approach him – the sniper would not let you." He lay there for a week...
I always get up early. Can you sleep in this place? No sleeping, just resting a bit. I went to fix up breakfast. Vanya found a barbecue somewhere and brought it before he was injured. It was already easier for me, I no longer bent down to the bricks, but cooked on the grill. We sat with my sister and had breakfast. It was just a few minutes past seven. I said, "Anya, something smells burnt." I looked at the smoke coming from our attic, "Oh, Anya, our house is on fire!"
I ran to the checkpoint in the center. Hoping that, maybe, someone would come and help, while it was still not burning very much. We had four barrels of water. We collected rainwater. And everything was already broken in the center. Only a hatch from the tank lay there. I screamed and called for help – there was no one there.
Then I remembered that I had left my sister! She walked with a stick. I was worried if she would crawl out of the house if it burned harder. I ran through the kitchen gardens. Fell. Got caught in the grass and threw away my slippers. Then crawled. There on it. When I came, I was my poor sister lying there. There was a table in the courtyard where I cooked. I hid my head there. Fragments were flying everywhere, slate was falling. I rubbed my knees and arms.
We had a storeroom, so I dragged my sister there. There was no one around. We jumped out, I was wearing my dressing gown, I lost my slippers and a head band. That was it. The next day they came to pick up Hrisha. The Chairman saw that our house had burned down. He thought we were no longer there. He went out, crying: "Oh, aunt Raya, how are you? How did you get out?"
Then soldiers and a nurse came. They picked Hrisha's remains. Though, there was nothing left. Heat, dogs… They put the bones in a bag, and there was nothing left of him.
We are told to leave again. My sister refuses again, "I won't go, that's all." And a nurse, a girl aged 22 years old, says to her in a foul language, "If you won't do it, four soldiers will come and put you on a stretcher." Soldiers came, took her with a blanket from the bed ans put her on a stretcher, and then into the car.
That is how they took us and brought us to Novoazovsk. We spent a day in the hospital there and were transported to our daughter-in-law's house. We lived at Olya's house for four years. This is my son's wife. And last year Larysa rented a house in Mariupol and brought us together.
I walked on crutches, and my sister walked with a stick. The toilet in the house did not work, there was no water. We had to go outside whenever we wanted to go the toilet. We also a shower there and a shed where I cooked. One day when my sister was going to the toilet, and I was sitting on a bench outside the house, making sure that she didn't fall, A heard a shell go off from behind the kitchen! It exploded! Everything was smashed: the shed where I was, the toilet, the shower, the cat was killed. My sister was thrown by a wave blast, she hit her head, her legs, and was very scared. She was so scared that she didn't get up again. She didn't use a walker, crutches, or sticks. She is so heavy, we have to pull her.
At first, there was fear, and then we got used to it. They prayed to God constantly. Only he can decide on our fate. We came here though it is very difficult.
Medications are very expensive. Medicine has advanced so far that you can't keep up with the prices. Everything burned down in one moment. Three hours, and nothing was left. And what now? We receive 1000 UAH to pay for the house. I get 2100 UAH, and my sister has 2200 UAH pension. We have to give almost everything for the apartment rent. Two and a half thousand plus utilities. And two thousand or more for gas supply. The gas boiler is old, probably made before the revolution. The house is still cold even though it is switched on.
Food is very expensive. They gave us some aid. Once, I bought some clothes, and the second time we paid for utilities. They delivered food to us. The Red Cross did this. Then they stopped their assistance. Then we received assistance from the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation every quarter.
When talking to the residents of Mariupol they think that we are financed very well here. They say, "You get the money." What do we get paid? This thousand is nothing considering the prices. And some people didn't even get a pension for five or seven months. And then they will give it for a month, but not for the past months. Is that fair? And people think that we get gold here.
I want to go home, to die on my own land, to be buried at home. Sometimes I would lie and remember my home. I start remembering everyone who lived where, who died, who got married, who went away. All your thoughts are about home, home, and home. Home in Shyrokyne.