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Stories that you confided to us

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Anna

‘In 2014, we lost our child because of the war’

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‘For me, the war means…’

… destruction, pain, bloodshed and loss

When did the war in Donbass begin for you? What was the beginning of the war for you? At what point did you realize that everything changed?

When Girkin fled to Donetsk from Slovyansk and tanks and armoured vehicles were driving along our street. There were some hit cars… and then I realized that there would be something bad.

Did you happen to see any military actions with your own eyes? How was it?

I heard something. I heard some explosions, but I did not see any military actions in particular.

What did you talk about with your family and neighbours during active hostilities?

My husband wanted to enrol in a volunteer battalion. We planned to leave, we expected to be received in Uman. We thought everything would be over soon. But, nevertheless, we left on 18 July 2014. There was a period when our troops began to liberate the region, but we left. We thought we would leave not for a while and would come back. Yet, we left and have not returned.

What do you remember the most from the experience you went through during the war?

The war brought us many bad things, on the one hand. On the other hand, there are some positive points too.

Speaking of negative ones, it is the fact that we lost our child in 2014. Because of the war my father was a prisoner and in 2018 he died unexpectedly. It is a breakdown in the relations with family members. There are still some relations, but not the same as they were before. As for positive points, in 2017 our daughter was born, and we received our housing.

We tend to erase some unpleasant events from our memory. What would you like to forget?

How we lost our child in 2014. When we left, I was pregnant with my fourth child and I was very worried... There was such a strong sense of uncertainty and depression. We left wearing our summer clothes and we did not know where to go further together with three little kids… There were many bad things, but, thank God, we managed to get to our feet.  

How did you relocate?

Most of the things, mainly household equipment and appliances, remained back there. We were able to take out only two laptops, some gold jewellery, some money and telephones... We left in summer clothes. We lived in Mariupol for a month and a half, and then left for Mykolaiv region.

There was even such a period when our eldest son and our daughter began to go to the kindergarten and the weather was getting colder, but we did not have warm clothes. So, I asked the teachers not to take our kids outside with everyone else at lunchtime, but to leave them indoors because they had nothing to wear.

Do you plan to return home when the war is over?

No. We planned it during the first three years, I think. I missed Donetsk very much and wanted to come back home. When we returned to Mariupol in 2016, I realized that we would not come back to Donetsk. And I don’t want to come back now…

We used to have our own house where my brother lives now. My dad died on the territory of Ukraine. I had closer contact with my dad, but he passed away, and I do not really feel like visiting Donetsk. Only when Donetsk is liberated, I could go there with my children and show them: this is where your mother was born. To make kind of a tour. We don’t want to come back.

Tell us please how the war affected your everyday life (access to water, food, a possibility to move freely, safety, financial condition etc.)

We had serious difficulties with things, with possessions, not only in the initial period. We moved many times: first to Mykolaiv region, and we lived in Mykolaiv city too. In 2016, we moved to Mariupol where we changed four apartments.

I was pregnant and carried some heavy things even after a course of pregnancy maintenance, and after the caesarean delivery, as we kept changing our places of living. It was hard to find an apartment for rent. Owners tend to better rent their apartments out to tenants with pets than to us. When we say we have three-four kids – ‘Oh, no-no, sorry, we don’t want it’.

What do you dream about?

My dreams are more focused on my children. I dream of my children achieving success in life. I dream of us being able to buy them some housing.

What has become the most valuable and important for you in recent years?

Everything can be overcome if we do it together with my husband, with my family, my husband’s parents, with our friends and relatives. We can cope with everything.

Has your attitude towards life changed because of the war?

Yes, because you need to value the time now, to live and enjoy life. To look to the future, but also to rejoice at it. As the saying goes, they lived in poverty, and partially in wealth too. There were both good and sad moments associated with the war. And thank God, we live better now.

What did you learn while overcoming all the difficulties that you told us about?

I learned not to give up, as they say. There will not always be a streak of bad luck, and it will be followed by good luck. It’s hard now, but it will be easier.

What role has humanitarian aid played for you and your family?

We received help from Rinat Akhmetov and Caritas, from the Red Cross too. In Mykolaiv, we received some financial assistance from the IOM. It helped us a lot. When the war began, it was really needed at those moments. And then later too, when you have a large family, everything will come in handy!

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 https://civilvoicesmuseum.org/

Rinat Akhmetov Foundation Civilian Voices Museum
Donetsk 2014 Text Civilian's stories women moving psychological injury loss of loved ones safety and life support
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