Stories that you confided to us

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Stories that you confided to us

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Olexandra Petrivna Velyka
age: 83
"I didn't go down to the basement till the last. I stayed in the corner and prayed"

She will never forget the firing, which took place on 4 September 2014. It was on that very day when strong shooting of Shyrokine began and did not stop for a long time. Oleksandra Petrivna was forced to leave her home, where she resided for more than 80 years, and go to another city.

They started firing hard. As soon as they started bombing quietly, I did not go down to the basement. I just sat, praying. I repeated the Lord’s Prayer on and on. I thought, "How will it end? Are the shootings all for today or will it be even worse?” 

I went straight to Shyrokyne. I lived there for 83 years. I really want to return home! Living in the apartment is difficult.

Our village was very lovely. It had six or seven recreation camps. Zolotyi Bereh was one of the best ones. Parents came here with their children.

I finished accounting school. I was awarded the title of Senior Accountant and Commercial Employee at Silpo Supermarket. I finished school but could not find a job. I was sent to another village to replace a shop assistance in another village for four months.

Then I was employed as a shop assistant in our village. I did all the accounting. Chairman said, "Well, Olexandra, take over the warehouse." You can imagine taking up such a big responsibility!  I burst into tears as I wanted to do  by profession. No, I had to take the warehouse, that's all. So I did.

When I was getting married, I could not leave the warehouse. I had to register the marriage, but we did not have any witnesses. So we ran, just two of us, registered the marriage, and I went to work. A bride is supposed to have a proper party. I stayed at work till the last. I had no  hair-do or make-up… The  wedding was quite an ordinary day. Now my daughter lives in Makiivka, and she is married. And son lives in Mariupol.  

Son, Pavlik, worked at Azovstal. He was just at work when they started firing hard. He could not come and pick me up. As soon as they started bombing quietly, I did not go down to the basement. I just sat, praying. I repeated the Lord’s Prayer on and on. I thought, "How will it end? Are the shootings all for today or will it be even worse?” 

I will never forget Pavlik's birthday, 4 September 2014. Daughter Tanya came from Makiivka. When she went to the bus stop to go home, no transport was going. I went to the highway – there was no transport either. They did not let any cars. There was no movement at all. She decided to return here. And then how they just started firing!

Poor thing, she just came up to see the relatives. Grandmother Olya lived there. She did not go down to the basement, she had bad legs. We sat out. It seemed they had stopped firing. Tanya said, "Well, Grandma Olya, I'll go home."   

She just came out as they started firing again!   It all happened above her head! Poor thing, she ran home so fast. And as they started firing hard, she went down to the basement.   

She started knocking on all the doors and windows, but I couldn't hear anything in the basement.   She ran to the neighbors, and they opened. She spent the night at their place. 

She came in the morning, because they didn't shoot in the morning. I opened the door and said, "Tanechka, why did you come from Mariupol so early?" "Mom, I didn't go anywhere."    She started telling how she went to her birthday party.  

Then they started shooting every day ever since. Either they start in the morning, it is quiet in the evening, or at 10 o'clock in the morning. At first, it was nothing, and then when they started again, it's impossible to hold back.

We have a basement under the house and exit to the kitchen.   Folding door (movable lid, entrance to the basement. - Ed.) was right in the kitchen.    I thought that if the house collapsed, it will crush the door and I will not be able to get out of there.   

I tried to do that, but I couldn't stand it and I didn't go down to the basement. I sat in the corner as long as I could. And when you can't take it any more, when the walls were shaking, the chandelier, the dishes – everything was shaking, then I went down.   All alone.

Then a neighbor arrived. They started firing hard, and my door was open.    I opened and thought that it might be a neighbor. When they started firing, I thought I needed to go down to the basement again, because I could not stand it.   

I went to close the door and then come go back. Misha! Neighbor. He arrived for his mother by car. He said, "Aunt Shura, will you go?" I said, "Where?" "And you do not know anything? We have lost everything in our lives." Well, how can I stay? I said, "Surely." "Well, you have two minutes for the meeting."   

If he told me right away, I would at least take something with me.    I have three pairs of boots left at home, and I came, wearing galoshes.   

He has two sheep dogs, and he put these two dogs in the trunk, then put his mother, and then just came and told me.    What could I do in two minutes? I didn't take anything at all. Misha brought me home, and Pavlik was waiting for me there.   Son took me to his place and then found me a house.   

Then the damaged houses in Shyrokyne were photographed. They came and said: "Your house is empty." The walls were still standing, the roof was gone.    There was no summer kitchen.   Shower, barn - everything was destroyed.    

My dream is to get to Shyrokyne. But where? Everything was completely destroyed. The whole village was destroyed, burned, looted. And we do not know what happens next.

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