Stories that you confided to us

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Stories that you confided to us

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Liudmyla Semenenko
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"The child first saw Grads, thought that it was birds flying"

She is a single mother of five children Father left the family during the war. When the village of Hranitne (Donetsk Oblast) was under fire, she hid with children in the basement, in the bathroom, in the corners of the rooms. It was very scary. The night shelling in 2015 was especially memorable. It was a miracle that the house was undamaged.

We hid in the bathroom. We stayed in basements for months. I remember I would run and leave the kids in the neighbor's basement. There was no light, so I had to fix us some dinner and rush back there. We lived a month without light, without communication. It was so horrible.

I am from the city of Mykolaiv. My mother and I moved to Mariupol to live with her common-law husband. We lived there for a while. Then mother died, and I was left alone. I had some part-time jobs. Then I met my future husband.  He is from Novolaspa, a neighboring village with Hranitne. His sister lived here. We have lived in Hranitne for 10 years now. 

We have five children. The oldest is 17 years old.

The child first saw Grads, thought that it was birds flying

She has already finished school. The youngest son will start school the next year. Now we live in peace. They do not shoot when compared to those times when it all started.

The child first saw Grads, thought that it was birds flying

They started shooting in the steppe. Everyone was in shock: what is it? Dead wood, dry grass began to burn. It was very scary!

We were alone. Husband had left us. He saw all this and went to Mariupol. He said, "I'll earn some money, I'll earn some money, I'll call you." Time passed, and he stopped returning our calls. So we were left alone. 

One day, in 2015 or 2016, we had a very scary night. They started shooting down our street from the river at two o'clock in the morning. The surrounding house was destroyed. Thank God, ours was intact. Windows and gates were damaged by a blast wave. A dog that was near the gate got killed. God was merciful to us. 

The child first saw Grads, thought that it was birds flying

We hid in the bathroom. We stayed in basements for months.

The child first saw Grads, thought that it was birds flying

. I remember I would run and leave the kids in the neighbor's basement. There was no light, so I had to fix us some dinner and rush back there. We lived a month without light, without communication. It was so horrible. 

Then, the children began to get used to it slowly. They were not so afraid. I asked my 14-year-old son: "Arthur, what is this? Where are they shooting from? Where is it flying to? What is flying?" He told me everything. He could already tell the weapon and direction where it would hit by the sound. "Oh, don't worry, it won't fall here, it will fly further." 

Once when it all started, I went out to water a goat and then heard that they started firing at us from the Grads. They hit the steppe. It started to burn. All people gathered up to see what was going on. We thought that we had got into our homes here and we were all on fire. We cried. We were hysterical. We could hear people running with hysteria on the next street, "What is it?"

The child first saw Grads, thought that it was birds flying

That happened right when my child Tema started walking. He was two or three years old then, and now he's six. It was a toddler. They went for a walk in the village when this happened. I started to panic. I was hysterical, "Where is Artur with Tema? Then he told me everything. He said, "We looked how birds flew."

The child saw the Grads for the first time. How was he supposed to know what was happening. What kind of birds were they? Well, thank God, they came.

Then things settled down for a bit. There was no shooting heard. So they returned home. Our school and kindergarten didn't work for a year then. We stayed at home. Then, when the school started, we were still afraid. The rules were very strict. Not like before: a child could go to school and come home alone. The children were told at school what to do, where to run, and where to hide. 

You begin to ask God to make it better. The desire to live comes back. I need to bring up children, set them on their feet. I am alone. I have to rely on myself only. There is no one left. I am an orphan.

We need firewood. It is winter. But where can get it? We used to have a forest nursery here. I took a wheelbarrow and brought firewood.  Now everything is mined there. 

The only hope is Rinat Akhmetov's support. We need his food products. We are so glad. Food is tasty and fresh. We get pasta, butter, sugar, and flour. I get six sets for the children and me. We really appreciate this! God bless him and his family. Let there be peaceful skies above our heads. 

The child first saw Grads, thought that it was birds flying

I wish it would all be over soon. I wish to get a job somewhere, even as a cleaner. To be able to bring up my children. However, there are jobs. I really wanted to work in the quarry, but the quarry was completely destroyed. So now I'm on maternity leave. It is not hard physically. It is hard financially. We keep a couple of goats, broilers. Sometimes we sit in the kitchen and dream that the war will end, there will be no bombing.

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