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Stories that you confided to us

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Svitlana Tselynko

‘We had a life before, now we don’t have it’

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There used to be nothing here before, not a single tree. We have created everything with our own hands. Little by little, we have built a house, planted trees. All these things are really special to us. Now, the house started to fall apart because of cracks. There are cracks everywhere, the chimney has been damaged by a shell hit, the glass has fallen out of the window frames. It’s horrible.

My daughter had been living here until heavy shooting broke out. We hid together in the cellar and afterwards it took three people to get her out.

She’s a first-degree disabled person. As a result of that stress, she has stopped walking. She can only move around in a wheelchair.

We don’t have any hospitals, post offices, buses here, so I had to move her to Mariupol. Over there, you can at least request a house call by a doctor. Now, I have to go to Mariupol every week as she needs medicines and food. I just stand at the side of the road with my thumb up to hitch a ride there.

‘We had a life before, now we don’t have it’

Doctors found cerebral palsy back at the time when she was born. Since the age of two, she started to have surgeries for lengthening her tendons so that she could walk on her own. She had three surgeries. She started walking, but with a stick. Every year, we used to put her in hydropathic institutions, get her all kinds of treatments, took her to sanatoriums when we could afford it.

When we got her out of the cellar, the stress was so huge that she couldn’t even talk. Later, when I moved her away, she couldn’t walk either. She just got into that wheelchair once and has never got out of it ever since. For four years, she’s been using the wheelchair.

That was a shock because shells were landing nearby, one detonated as close as in our neighbour’s yard. All our windows were smashed. That was scary, really scary.

When we came to live here, there were farms, there were around 200 or 300 cows, one cow in every single household. We had a hog house, a tractor depot, a garage, a local school, a post office, so life was in full swing at the time.

Today, the post office is not working any more, the bus is not running. Back in the day, there was a bus coming to us every day. The garage has been torn apart, brick by brick, and the farm doesn’t exist anymore, there’s nothing left here. The school still exists, but it’s closed down, there are no teachers, no students. We had a life before, now we don’t have it.

There are maybe around 50 people staying here. Twice a week, they bring in bread to our local shop. Thanks God, they deliver some water here. There used to be service connections in all local houses for water supply from Mariupol. After those explosions, something happened and that Mariupol water stopped coming. And we have only one well with drinking water for the entire village. Unfortunately, water in those wells that people have in their yards has a bitter taste and is undrinkable.

There was a shell hit in one place and it caused a crack across the house, the windows were smashed. We had to install new window panes. Our neighbour laughs every time I mention that I need something done here. When people hear that it’s in Lebedynske, they say, ‘Ma’am, stop messing us about.’ I mean, nobody wants to come here, not even for money.

We are just living out our days here. Most care I take now is of my daughter. As for me, I take care of myself only to keep going. If God forbid I come down with something, if my feet stop working, it will be really bad for my daughter. So I wish I would be up and walking on my own feet for as long as possible.

Daughter Inna:

‘We had a life before, now we don’t have it’

There was a lot of shellfire here. The ladder in the cellar is something beyond my abilities. Both ways, up and down, I have to go in a lying position. It actually takes one person staying upstairs and one staying downstairs so that I don’t fall and go down rolling.

During heavy shelling, everyone was hiding in their cellars. Missiles were flying, there were explosions. At the beginning, when I didn’t have any idea what was happening yet, I glanced out of the window and saw lots of missiles, they looked like a Christmas tree flying above our heads. First, it didn’t affect me at all, but later I got really scared.

I’d be happy to stand up and walk with sticks, but you need to learn that, this needs to be done under control. I do everything on my own, I do the washing, cleaning, even mop up the floors, despite staying in my wheelchair. I just take a bucket with me and roll myself where I need to do some mopping, and then I put it down and start cleaning.

My dream has always been the same – walking on my own.

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 https://civilvoicesmuseum.org/

Rinat Akhmetov Foundation Civilian Voices Museum
Zheleznoye 2014 2015 Video Civilian's stories women health people with disabilities elderly (60+) poor
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