Stories that you confided to us

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Stories that you confided to us

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Valentyna Zozulia
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"A generation of children has grown up, which has always lived during the war"

There are events in people's lives that divide it into before and after that event. Millions of the residents of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts regard the armed hostilities of 2014 as such event. This calamity carved my heart.

The first years of the war were severe - the attacks were done both day and night. I remember standing on the balcony in the eerie darkness and hearing a dull distant shot, rustling and whistling. It was s a mine. It seems as if dashed within arm's reach. And then a terrible explosion followed, roar was heads all over the city. The house was shaking.

I work as a typesetting operator at the Avdiivka Power Distribution Zone. My work experience is 27 years. I was born in Donetsk Oblast.

I have lived in Avdiivka from 1967 to the present. The whole wide world heard about Avdiivka due to the attacks.

I very much support this project - collection of life stories told by the civilians of Donbass. It is really of great importance both for Ukraine and for the whole world.

My husband and I have a daughter, Olha, born in 1984. She graduated from Avdiivka Secondary School No. 6 and then Donetsk University, Faculty of Electrical Engineering. Having decided to follow our steps, she came to work in DTEK.

Later she got married and had a child. In 2013, when the maternity leave period was over, she went to work, but the war destroyed all our plans.

Maybe I talk a lot about my family, but it can't be erased from history. Our granddaughter was born in the time of war on 9 September 2014. 

When shells landed around the hospital in Avdiivka, babies were born in terrible conditions: without electricity, water and in danger.

"No one could have predicted that it would be so long"

War is the most terrible thing that can happen in the life of every person. Six years ago, a war broke out in the Donbass that claimed tens of thousands of lives and redrawn the map of Ukraine and the fate of millions of people.

The war became a forced background and reality for many Ukrainian children. The attacks destroyed schools and playgrounds, killed relatives and friends.

In July 2014, our leadership decided to let us go on vacation, as the war was already on the threshold. And no one could have guessed that it would be so long…

Listening to the news about the fighting taking place in Sloviansk, we all tried to evacuate the children with grandchildren. Although they managed to survive all the horrors with us. 

The first years of the war were severe - the attacks were done both day and night. I remember standing on the balcony in the eerie darkness and hearing a dull distant shot, rustling and whistling. It was s a mine. It seems as if dashed within arm's reach. And then a terrible explosion followed, roar was heads all over the city. The house was shaking.

At the end of July, another attack damaged power lines and left the city without electricity and water.

People's apartments who left in hurry had their refrigerators stocked with meat and other products. Can you imagine what would happen in the apartments after 4-5 days? After all, it was quite hot at that time.

More than a million people have left their homes and become displaced. A lot of stray dogs began to appear on the streets. They were left by their owners in a hurry. They would pounce on people and gnawed them.

Those who stayed began their morning by replenishing water at the wells and finding where to buy bread for themselves and their neighbour.

"Our children stuttered and turned grey from constant shelling"

During this time, children who have always had a war in their lives have grown up, who can distinguish the types of shells and guns by the sounds of shelling.  

There are children who adapt to war in order to survive in the 'grey zone.' They must adapt to the fact that there are military and military equipment nearby, your windows are blocked with sandbags or boarded up.

These are sounds that you get used to and distinguish between: departure or arrival, heavy weapons or small arms.

Our children stuttered and turned grey from constant shelling. This rumbling continued around the clock. Even now, I cry every time I try to remember this horror. 

The seven-year-old daughter of my employee was afraid to fall asleep, because she thought that they would not have time to go down to the basement. And if she did manage to sleep, she would say, " Mom, will you wake me up when it's already scary?"

Other situation. During the attack, a 10-year-old girl would hide under a table and shout, "Mom, I don't want to die!" This is the hardest test. There is not enough paper to write about everything.

We lost many employees during these years of war. They died at their work places. Children, people who were in gardens, in transport, in their homes, while helping other people died. People died of cardiac arrest because they couldn't handle the stress.

In August 2014, during the shelling, my neighbours and I went down to the bomb shelter and witnessed a terrible picture: a man brought his wife and granddaughter on a motorcycle to the nearest shelter. They were wounded and covered in blood. Even fast coaches could not leave at such times.

The war continues, and we cannot erase these events from our memory.

Many infrastructure facilities suffered from the destruction: residential buildings, schools, boilers, gas pipelines and water pipes.

I think these sounds will remain forever in my memory as a mechanism of fear and danger. 

"This calamity carved my heart"

In January 2015, the heating system was destroyed during the attack. In addition to this, we were left without heating, water, electricity and mobile communications.

There were 3-5 families left in our 70-apartment building, and we decided to move to the nearest village.

On 7 February 2015, since all types of transport were closed, my husband and mother and I made it out to the village of Ocheretyno, but we had to pay a lot of money.

Our house was shelled the next day. Windows, doors, roof - everything was destroyed.

It seemed that the war would never stop, so we decided to go to work. Every morning we met and enjoyed each other's company. We got to work under fire. Sometimes we had to fall to the ground.

It doesn't matter if you get dirty. It is important that if a shell explodes a few dozen meters from you, then most likely, you are dead. 

One morning we went to work to the Power Distribution Zone, and there we saw that the warehouse was destroyed and the windows of the building were broken. Luckily, there were no employees in the control room. 

I would like to say a few words about the humanitarian aid sets. I have not heard of any person who would consider it necessary to help the people of Donbass, except for Rinat Akhmetov. 

How many lives his Foundation has saved?! Let's take, for example, a large family of Honcharovs, who were wounded during the shelling attacks. The enormous humanitarian food assistance was received by the people of Donbass. Including my mother, who was born in 1938.

When the railway service stopped working, and we could not go to the city of Pokrovsk to get my husband's pension, the food assistance from Rinat Akhmetov meant a lot to us.

They say there are events in people's lives that divide it into before and after that event. Millions of the residents of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts regard the armed hostilities of 2014 as such event. This calamity carved my heart.

Every resident of Donbass has only one dream – to end the war. We began to understand what the Peace is. It is happiness!

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