Stories that you confided to us

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Stories that you confided to us

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Yuliya Dukhno
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Toshkovka
Toshkovka
"It feels like my heart was just ripped out"

In 2014, a shell hit their house. The man died on the spot. Daughter was in a coma for 20 days, and her five-month-old son was also injured. She herself was seriously injured. Now she is the only support for her children. She lives for them and wishes the little ones a better fate, without war.

It happened in the evening. We went to bed around nine. In was November, so it was getting dark early. The lights were just turned off and a loud whistle was heard. The whole house was shaking when the Grads were launched.

In 2014, our house was hit by a Grad shell – and it was straddled by a blast wave. It cannot be restored and we have no place to live. 

My husband worked in the mine. The tragedy happened to our family in 2014, in November. Son Artem was only five months old, daughter Masha was five years old.

It feels like my heart was just ripped out

At first, no military action took place in our village. We were considered a buffer zone, but shells were flying along the Bakhmut Highway towards Luhansk. We only heard the Grad sounds. We thought it would never touch us. No one in the village went with machine guns, no tanks, no nothing.

It feels like my heart was just ripped out

Intermittent bursts were heard in the morning, at lunch, and in the evening. We knew that it was better to stay in the house at this time of day, to sit and keep our heads down. It was advised not to look in the windows. It was very scary. We hardly went outside, even though we had our own garden and yard. Of course, I wanted to breathe air, and not sit somewhere under a wall… 

Our basement is dangerously unsafe. My husband once said, "We'll stay in the basement." But I refused, "No, who's going to get us out of there?" Our basement is not the same as people's, it is not equipped for that.

It feels like my heart was just ripped out

"The whole house was shaking when the Grads were launched"

The husband died on 18 November. He was crushed by the blast wave of the wall of the house. He fell on the chest.

It happened in the evening. We went to bed around nine. In was November, so it was getting dark early. The lights were just turned off and a loud whistle was heard. The whole house was shaking when the Grads were launched.

It feels like my heart was just ripped out

I jumped to my son's bed, trying to pull it away from the wall. And then I was blown away. I fell, that's all… I had one arm with my head sticking out from under a pile of collapsed ceiling, from under building materials.

It feels like my heart was just ripped out

The wall where the crib was fell. It was a miracle that it didn't hit my son. It did not collapse on him — neither cinder blocks nor the construction materials. Only a board fell, and Artemka was not very seriously injured. The entire wall collapsed on my husband, who was sleeping on the bed, with Masha and on the other side. My daughter immediately lost consciousness.  

"I thought we would all be dead"

It is good that there were neighbors nearby and that the military lived in the village. They had a base in the old factory building. We do not even have an ambulance or any medical facility in the village. If something happens, the only hope is for the Ukrainian military to help take you to the hospital.  

It feels like my heart was just ripped out

I only remember periods when people came to dig us out. I remember that I was lying with all these materials taken away. I lost consciousness, I was in a state of shock. I thought we would all be dead. 

We were taken to different hospitals. I don't remember who was taken where, I was probably unconscious too. Masha was in a coma for 20 days, with a concussion. Artem was also in intensive care for five days – also with mild concussion.

They took me to the hospital and gave me something to help me come to my senses. I remember asking, "Where are my children? Where is my family?" The doctors said, "We are saving your daughter's life." But they didn't say anything about Artem and my husband. They told me that Masha suffered the most, that her condition was severe.

It feels like my heart was just ripped out

I had  bleeding, my spleen torn, and they had to remove it. One lung was wounded as well. I was in intensive care for two weeks under the machine, because it was very difficult to breathe. The fluid was drained from the lung.

It feels like my heart was just ripped out

"The Foundation brought medicines, and Masha came out of the coma"

Masha was in a coma for 20 days… No medication that was in the hospital helped her. Thank God, our relatives on the Internet accidentally saw a running line that the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation can help children who were injured in the ATO. They took all the information and sent it by email. My daughter's medication was quickly delivered, and she came out of the coma. If it wasn't for the medication and the help that was provided in time, the child would have been long gone. 

Then we had an operation in Kharkiv. The Rinat Akhmetov Foundation also provided all the necessary medicines. And bandages, baby formula, diapers, and napkins – everything, and not just for the operation. Everything was brought for the kids. 

It feels like my heart was just ripped out

You weren't allowed to talk on the phone in the intensive care unit, but I really wanted to see the children. We didn't see each other for a month until I was released from the hospital. I saw Masha in Kharkiv. I took the train from Lysychansk to see her for surgery. A week passed, my husband's parents came. They didn't tell me anything about him. Then they just said, "We already buried him..."

"Even if a car drives loudly, the children close their ears"

It's been five years since it happened. It's still hard to remember, you try not to think. Even if a car drives loudly, the children close their ears. They're still afraid of noises.  

It feels like my heart was just ripped out

Masha went to school at the age of seven. She has the first disability group. After the operation, my daughter could not stand on her legs normally, because she lay for a long time. We took massages, and I helped her. She limped, even though we didn't have any fractures. She was just paralyzed on the left side when she was in a coma. Her hand is now shaking, it does not function properly. The nerve was pinched very hard. 

Since 2016, we have been going to sanatoriums for rehabilitation from the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation. We went to Sloviansk with Masha and Artem. We went with children from the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation to rehabilitation in Odessa, in Kuyalnik. And this year we got a call from the Foundation, saying, "We will contact you, and you will be able to go again." We really need rehabilitation. I couldn't have done it on my own efforts. If it were not for the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation, we would not be able to pay for all of this on our own. 

It feels like my heart was just ripped out

"I still can't go into the house in peace"

War changes people. You become more masculine. You had a family, and suddenly you have to be a mom and a dad at the same time. You need to be both courageous and brave.

We moved. We don't live in Toshkivka now, even though we have military personnel in Lysychansk as well. My parents still live in Toshkivka. They called to us, "Come on, maybe you'll live with us." My grandparents are old. And they have no one but us. They care about us and want to see us. However, I still cannot enter the house normally whenever i visit them. It is terrible. We do not go to our street, it is far from my grandmother. We were three years ago. There was nothing left, not even the partitions. Trees and grass have overgrown. 

It feels like my heart was just ripped out

For me, the war in the first place is fear. It's one thing to see it on TV, but to experience it yourself is a completely different feeling. If I had known this was going to happen in my life, I wouldn't have survived it. My mother and grandmother told me that the war in 1945 was not as brutal as this one. 

Even if 30 years pass and I am still alive, this war will remain in my heart forever. This terrible tragedy that happened to my children. They got hurt for nothing. It feels like my heart was just ripped out.

It feels like my heart was just ripped out

I dream first of all that children do not get sick, that they are healthy, that the sun shines and it is quiet around. To walk and not look back. To end this war as soon as possible. So that we have peace in Ukraine, not only in our city, but also in the whole country of our Ukraine.

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