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Stories that you confided to us

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Valentyna Khodarova

“Women covered children who cried out hysterically out of fear with their bodies”

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In our village, which is called Bakhmutka, over 1000 people and about 50 children lived until 2014. In 2017, 240 people were left in the village, of which 15 were children. The rest left in the course of three years.

The center of the village was Zaitseve, because there was a school, council, hospital, church, library, savings bank, post office there. Up till now, our village has lost everything.

We had a bus going from Mykytivka every hour. Now the road is closed. This bus used to take people to the mine, Uzlovska Central Concentrating Plant, railway, and children to school.

The village had an alabaster factory, working three shifts. Everything was good and timely: wages, pensions, medical care.

Everything changed in an instant. We have no job offers, no medicine, no transport. War came unexpectedly and forced us to abandon our homes. Children had no school to attend to. People left everything they acquired over the years so as not to see these bombings and not to hear children's cries.

From 2014 to 2017, people experienced great fear. Their mental health has been  disturbed. Nervous breakdowns were a common thing. Old people and young children hid in the cellars during winter and summer. And the pain they suffered when shells flew before their eyes was unbearable!

Women laid down on the ground and covered their children who cried out hysterically out of fear with their bodies.

It was very difficult to live in the village — it was blocked. We had no bread, no water, no food. The military shared their food and medicines with us.

“Women covered children who cried out hysterically out of fear with their bodies”

Since 2015, we have Humanitarian Headquarters. They give out humanitarian aid, help people with documents, give mummies and children diapers, people, who have suffered from shelling, receive building materials.

Since 24 June 2016, the village has not had electricity. When you run into the basement in the darkness under the shelling attack, you can fall, break your knee. Bot you rise and run, because life is the most valuable thing.

It is very hard without electricity here. We cook in the summer to eat on the street over a campfire. There is no place to store food. There is no water in the wells. We forgot what a TV is, what a machine wash is.

However, we are very grateful to volunteers, humanitarian organizations, pastors who help us with water, food, and provide moral assistance. It was hard and scary to live under shelling attacks every day.

“Women covered children who cried out hysterically out of fear with their bodies”

I remember one such case. A grandmother was walking near the house with her granddaughter when and  a heavy shelling began.    She did not have time to run home, she fell with her granddaughter right on the road near the curb, covered her with her body, broke her knees, and the granddaughter screamed with fear. But the grandmother whispered in her ear, "Granddaughter, dear, please, hold on a little more." She herself sobbed without any shame, because she was powerless. She suffered a lot of stress worrying about herself, but most of all, about her granddaughter. A week later, she left the village, abandoning everything.

The village, of course, that existed before the war is no longer there. The roads are damaged, houses are abandoned, the cemetery is broken. However, people still have hope that peace will come to us. We pray for that every day. We wish peace and prosperity to all people on the globe.

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
Zaitseve (Bakhmutka) 2014 2015 2016 2017 Text Civilian's stories
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