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Stories that you confided to us

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Valentyna Tereshkova, Vladyslav Lytvynov

‘We can be killed at any moment’

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Valentyna Tereshkova:

There was a time back in the nineties when it was hard with jobs. My son-in-law used to work in Moscow. He was severely beaten there. He came back, lived here for a year and died. My daughter was ill, she also died. She had severe sinusitis, but she did not go to the hospital. Then once she was in bed and said: ‘Why don’t you turn on the TV?’ I said: ‘How? The TV is on.’ She lost her hearing. Two days later, she went blind. She died on the third day.

Little grandchildren remained. It was such a shock. I was very worried. I was very worried about my grandchildren. I thought I wouldn’t be given the guardianship right because I was old, 70 years old. Well, I am thankful I received it, they are with me. While I was younger, it was not so difficult for me, they were smaller, they were easier to handle. Of course, they are still trying [to be obedient], they help me. They bring me coal and chop wood in the summer, as we need firewood for winter. When coal was delivered we need to put it into the barn. So they help me with everything, they do everything. However, it is difficult with their school homework, of course... I cannot cope with this school curriculum. I make them learn it. They say: ‘We have done it.’ I look in their diaries and check. It seems there are no bad marks, well, thank God.

I want to raise them so that they are obedient, kind, respectful, independent and healthy – the most important thing. They miss their parents. They come to the cemetery and clean up [near the graves]. I tell them: ‘Bear in mind that your mom and dad are looking at you.’ It happens once a week that they recall, they mention their mom and dad.

Grandson Vladyslav Lytvynov:

Our grandma has been trying her best; she put all her energy for the sake of us. We were small and we did not understand this. Our grandmother was teaching us little by little. As we were growing up, we realized it more and more. At my age of 16 years old, I understand that I am growing up, and I have to do everything myself. I wish our grandmother to live and live on. She sets us on our feet.

The fighting is going on now. All the children hide in the cellars. There are even children who go to bed dressed in the evening in order to be able to immediately jump up and run to the cellar.

It is 2018 now. The war has been going on for four years and over these four years we gradually got used to it. The first two years we were scared because in August or September, I don’t remember, the school was shelled. The school was closed and then it was renovated. Winter came and the school was shelled for the second time.

We came from school and said: ‘Grandma, we will go with a classmate to make a snowman.’ And I just put on my pants – there was our neighbour here, my older brother, our grandmother, a little one... And then a shell suddenly flew into the vegetable garden. We were all terrified. We started collecting things quickly and all ran to the cellar. We would stay in the cellar for several hours.

During four years, we got used to all this, and now we are no longer scared, we are used to it. If there are shells close, then you have to run to the cellar. If some fifteen meters remain from us, then you really have to run. We don’t know where else they will hit. At any moment we can be killed, that is, in a second or two, we can lie hit by a shell.

Valentyna Tereshkova:

It was hard at first. They would go to school and then shelling would start – we run to meet them from school, we pick them up. When [shelling] started, we were hiding in the cellar. We had our beds set up there. We did not spend the night there, but stayed there for several hours.

We have stove heating. We heat when we want. We have coal and firewood too. I used to work at Pivdenna mine. I worked there for 28 years as a stoker, a fireman. We heated the entire mine. Therefore, now I get coal for free. I am thankful for that. I only pay for its delivery.

My health has given away. My blood pressure often makes me worried. My heart beats irregularly. Well, this is not only my problem. It is probably similar for everyone with such a life. Young people moved away and old people stayed.

I stint myself in everything, basically, because I do my best for my grandchildren to have everything. I get my payments and I have some money, so I can buy them some sweets, some tangerines, bananas and apples. I go all out for my grandchildren. Then we tighten our belts in order to have enough and not to get into debts. So as not to be hungry and not to have to beg.

We receive humanitarian aid both for them and for ourselves. Thanks to Rinat Akhmetov for helping us. So, thank God. We thank the Lord for giving us strength, health, patience, and help from kind people. Many thanks.

There is some sugar, butter, and flour there. We often bake pies, pancakes or fritters. Great thanks for that! It is a good help for us, for sure.

We hope for the best. We hope that [the grandchildren] will finish their studies and there will be jobs. How long will I live? Even though they say: ‘Grandma, you will live for another 10 years!’ Well, we will live as long as we are destined to. I want my grandson to finish studies and find a job. I want him to be employed and to be healthy.

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
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