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Stories that you confided to us

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Antonina Dragoun

«The war takes away children’s childhood»

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Antonina Dragoun,

student of the Lisichansk special school number 27.

Her essay for the competition of creative essays "One Day" took 1st place

Can one day turn your whole life upside down? It can...

On that day I suddenly moved closer to my adulthood… I still remember those terrible sounds of shells. Back then, they made me, a seven-year-old girl, tremble with fear…

The war takes away children’s childhood
Antonina in 2014

Certain fragments still stay in my memory… My mother and I are lying on the floor, hiding from explosions. Our cats are also nearby. They do not move, feeling that something terrible is happening.

Then we are running to the cellar. ‘Faster, faster,’ is heard behind us. But we cannot run faster: my mother is in her ninth month of pregnancy.

Back then I felt I was responsible for her. And not only for my mum, but also for my little sister who was about to be born. This happened later, on that very day when Lysychansk was liberated. And we named her Viktoriya, which is known to mean “victory”. But that was still a long way off then.

We are hiding in the cellar. It is stifling… It is hot... It is dark... If only we could stay alive… It seemed that everything that was happening to us was some kind of a nightmare. We so much wanted to believe that we would wake up and things would be as before: I would play with my friends, adults would go to work, we would all gather in the evening, and we would enjoy life.

Why did a terrible whirlwind of war burst into our lives?! It turned everything upside down and made it clear that peace is the greatest value.

Someone is crying, someone is silent, and someone is constantly saying something nervously. Time drags on far too long. And the worst thing is uncertainty. We had no idea how long we would have to hide, but we knew it clearly: there was danger outside, upstairs, while we could find rescue in the cellar.

Is that the kind of a paradise on our land you, Great Kobzar, dreamed of?! ‘And the blood is flowing for centuries into the blue sea’... From there, you probably saw how we, left without power supply, without water and gas, would go outside and make a fire to cook some food for all the tenants of the apartment block. People brought some food and water (who had what) and tried to survive supporting each other.

The grief united us and made us stronger. For Ukrainians it is always like this: trouble or grief only makes us stronger.

I remember that not far from our house there was a nine-storey building. It was hit by a shell that shot right in the middle of it. What a horror it was! This can only be seen in movies, but we became real eyewitnesses to a terrible crime against civilians.

Seven years have passed since then, but it is still painful to remember those events. This is a wound that will most probably never heal. When it was all over, the destroyed nine-storey building stood like a ghost for a long time. Then it was dismantled, taken out in parts, and later the ground was levelled on that site and birch trees were planted.

Every time I pass by them, an old scary picture comes to my mind. And the young trees rustle their leaves calmly, as if nothing had happened. Sometimes my sister Viktoria plays there.

God forbid she ever sees what I saw! I wish she would just listen to the whispers of the birch trees and enjoy life! I wish she would not become grown up ahead of time! I am writing about the war, and wish she would never feel its evil breathing!

I know about it not from the textbooks.

I know why it is scary for everyone,

How it destroys, kills, and takes away,

And how it stays in your memory.

Unfortunately, the war in the East continues.

There is peace in Lysychansk, but there is still war somewhere.

The war that takes away children’s childhood.

And that hurts people’s souls forever.

And although I no longer hear the shellfire,

I cannot forget it anymore.

Let us finally find those Moses,

That will lead us to light and peace!

The war takes away children’s childhood
Antonina in 2021

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

Rinat Akhmetov Foundation Civilian Voices Museum
Lysychansk 2014 2021 Text Civilian's stories youth 2014 psychological injury shelling safety and life support Essay Competition 2021
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