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Valeriya Popova

‘The war has trampled a lot in our souls’

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Valeriya Popova, Liutserna Educational Facility, Liutserna village, Zaporizhzhya region

In the "One Day" essay competition, her work took 3rd place.

Teacher - Lesia Brusnik

Valeriya in 2021

What was the day like when the war began for me? Honestly, I did not have time to realize at what time it started specifically. It came uninvited, turned everything upside down, or just took it away. Events unfolded spontaneously. It is May, I am nine years old, and I am going to finish my third year of school. Everything goes as usual: school, friends, home…

One day, when we were at school, we were gathered in the basement and told that as soon as we hear the alarm signal, we would run down there immediately. We were little, and it was even some fun for us when the sirens sounded in class and we ran to the bomb shelter. But upper-form school students and teachers were not excited at all, because they understood everything.

It was a bombing drill. Then they also started explaining to us what was happening in our town. Then we felt upset too. We were scared. When we played in the yard and saw a plane, we immediately ran to take shelter.

One day my mother and I went to the town. There I saw some men in military uniform. There were many of them. I asked my mother, ‘Who are these men?’ She did not know what to say, so she remained silent. Then I started coming across the so-called men in uniform in our village. But that was yet not the worst thing.

Summer came. We had our holidays, but we didn’t even go out for a walk because our parents were worried and afraid to let us go out. It was dangerous to stay at home too.

We woke up at night and hid in the cellar. At any time, a warning signal could be given that everyone should hide in the bomb shelter. The siren could wail either at six in the morning or at two in the morning. And that was awful. It was unbearable to live like that.

One case settled everything. My dad’s younger sister Larysa came to visit us. She was sixteen years old at that time. I heard a conversation that my mother later shared with me.

Going home from fitness training, Larysa came under shellfire. ‘I am lying among a group of bloodied bodies. In front of me is a woman and she is screaming very loudly because a shell hit her. I am lying on the ground and praying to survive,’ she said with fear in her eyes.

Middle of summer, we pack up our things. At that time, my only concern was that I could not take my favourite teddy bear with me because we took with us as few things as possible. My mother said that we were not leaving forever, but just for some time.

Six o’clock in the evening. Me, my younger brother, who was two years old at the time, my mum, dad and my uncle got on the train. Taking only the most necessary things, we fled away from explosions and shells.

When we arrived at the station, terrible firing was heard in Donetsk. A woman with two children came into our train car. She had no things, no documents, and no money. She didn’t even know where the train was going.

After passing the checkpoints, we came to Zaporizhzhya. We sighed with relief there: we were at home, in Ukraine. Six months later, my mother’s parents arrived. They hoped that everything would end, but no...

Not everyone moved (from there), some people stayed. Many died. A friend of our family, who went out to his garden, was torn apart by a bomb. And these are far not all the terrible events and consequences. Eight years have passed since then, but I remember it all as if it happened yesterday.

The war has trampled a lot in our souls. But I am happy that I am alive, that I can breathe, love, learn… Enjoy life, every little thing, every moment, memories of sweet home… This pernicious feeling of security, feeling that everything is fine. While the war continues.

I believe that peace will come to Luhansk anyway. After all, the world is so beautiful and lively, created for happiness, for love and for smiles…

Lugansk 2014 2021 Text Civilian's stories children 2014 moving shelling children internally displaced persons 2021 Shelling of Luhansk Essay Competition 2021
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