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Stories that you confided to us

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Larysa Panchenko

"I saw tanks shooting at us"

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We are residents of Avdiivka. The house in the old part of Avdiivka, and the last street near the forest — that's where the fighting took place all the time. I don't know how to fix my house. We left a long time ago. A year and a half has already passed. When we left, the windows were broken.

A mine fell near the greenhouse. Fragments even reached the house. I mean, I saw it fall with my own eyes. The daughter was leaving for Sloviansk at that time. She studied at the university.

I saw tanks shooting at us

My grandson was born here. Something strange started in April. My daughter had to go to us in Avdiivka. And then, when it started in Avdiivka, I sent her with a month-old baby to Kyiv to her eldest daughter's. Then we got a call from the university, and I had to defend my graduation thesis.

She and the baby returned here, and it was already impossible for her to get to Avdiivka – the railway was broken. Overall, the fighting was severe. She remained in Sloviansk, and we came to hers. Finally, we were together.

I saw tanks shooting at us

We settled in a hostel because our daughter was studied at the university. It was the easiest option is to come and to appeal to the leadership of the university. They met us halfway and gave us this room.

Everything we had remained in Avdiivka. We took out all the children's things we could. That's all. None of us would have thought we would live like this. Naturally, it is much easier to return even to the destroyed houses. This is a completely different thing than going somewhere, looking for and settling in some completely strange place and starting all over again. At least, we can start again. We just need to repair the roof and walls.

I had a big garden. It was a dream of every gardener. We had everything, even peaches. I was gardening for my grandchildren. I dreamed that they would come for the summer. It's easier to start a new life in a place where you have something left and where your land is.

Not everyone can take such a step as moving to another city. People are afraid to give up what they have and go into the blue. It takes some courage. It's hard, you know.

You know, I think about it all the time. I think about my garden. I don't see the house in my dreams. The garden, on the other hand… When I don't have to think about all the problems and ways of solving them, I think about the garden. I put my grandson to bed and bring back the trees in my memory. I just wish that the next summer was rainy so that the trees would not dry up. I have hope to return there. It's just that when you do something with love, it's very hard to part with it.

I saw tanks shooting at us

I saw tanks shooting at us. There is the Bessonov Forest in the lead-up to this bridge and the ring road. I saw tanks driving in there. We lived there. My distance vision is good. I saw some military equipment. I didn't see  tanks, but then I realized those were tanks after I saw shells.

There is a dacha settlement at the end of my garden. And here are several cottage houses on the ground, on my land. My grandmother gave this land to people. They built their houses here. One shell fell into this house. The second one flew there through several houses in the garden. I stood there. Then something pushed me. I ran and only went to the basement – I felt it flying above.

I said, "Masha, it is going to fall on us." Luckily, it didn't. Here is the road behind the house. A shell hit the house there. It felt like it was falling on us. After that, the only thing I could think about was to leave. Especially because I had a child with me.

When the night bombing attacks began, I couldn't sleep. I could barely sleep for more than a month. I prayed in the basement. I praued out loud. The daughter would cover up with a blanket. She took a cat under the blanket and slept.

Sometimes we could feel that something heavy was flying above us. We often thought that it would fall on us. I woke her up so we would be closer to the door, under the wall. So we just stood there. She studied in Avdiivka at school, but classes didn't start in 2014.

It was impossible for us to leave from there. Buses didn't operate. We could take only a taxi. But we left at the earliest. At first, we hoped that it would end. We clang to some hope.

I saw tanks shooting at us

I feel sorry for the people. I feel sorry for people. I feel sorry for the dead children. I feel sorry for young people who had to die. They were very bright and unique, you know. I feel sorry for the old people who do not want to live out of despair. My grandma told me today, "I want to die." She is from Debaltseve. "I'm old," she said, " but I don't want to live the way we live, or the way everyone lives now. I don't want to know that there is a war going on."

I would like the whole family to return home. I want to return to our home, not just a house, but our house. And then... You know, we can fix it and live in it. Needless to say that we will work. It just so happened this way. We didn't want that. Everything would have been different if it hadn't been for the war.

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
Avdiivka 2016 Video Civilian's stories women children moving destroyed or damaged housing psychological injury shelling safety and life support children internally displaced persons
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