АвторAuthor: Anastasia Milenko | Translation: Mykhailova Valentyna
19 September 2022
Marina Voynivska lived all her 22 years in Irpen, Kyiv region, in a house that became a family heirloom for her. Before the war, the girl was engaged in sports, worked as an economist, and had big plans for the future. But because of Russian aggression, Marina had to live in a cellar, flee her hometown, and then lose her heritage, her home. But she has not lost hope and strength and continues to fight for her place in her home country. The girl told “Monologues of War” about this and more.
The last two years have been the most difficult stage in my life. In July 2021, my grandmother fell ill. She spent two weeks in the hospital, and I felt bad mentally. In October, my mother fell ill. I didn’t want to live anymore, it was so hard. It seemed that things could not be worse…
We heard that there might be a war. Usually, we treat such disturbing news with caution, but also believed until the end that it is all nonsense. The day before, on February 23, I set the alarm for 6:45 to be in time for work. Dad had to go around the region that day to deliver bread to people, he woke up at three in the morning.
On the fifth morning my mother was awakened. Her voice was trembling, she was nervous: “Masya*, do not be afraid, but it has begun.” I immediately woke up. We have quietly awakened my grandmother to not scare her much. My father at this time was far from us. He decided to go to work anyway. “People need bread” – that was his words. Then he simply could not get to us because of big traffic jams.
It was full of trash. We spent ten days in a cellar, 2 by 2 meters. We also invited our neighbors because they had no shelter. And now we are eight people in one small cellar. But we understood that it was war, we had to help each other. At that time, my grandmother also got sick with COVID-19.
We could only see the walls, we could not go anywhere. I was fainting in the cellar because of nerves and difficult living conditions. We heard constant explosions and shooting, learned to distinguish who is shooting and the weapon. It was very scary. I saw that my mother was already getting hysterical from everything that was happening around. And on March 5, my mother could not stand it and said: “Either today or never“.
*Masya – a short and/or affectionate form of a given name Marina. Often they are only used by friends and relatives.
I will not dwell on this moment. Every Ukrainian, unfortunately, now has a terrible story about explosions, evacuations, pain and losses… The Territorial Defense forces brought us to the city center. They said they were going back. We ran 3 kilometers from the center to the evacuation bus. We were crossing the bridge in Romanivka (a village in Kyiv region – ed.). The bus did not start. I thought I would die there.
Then we just drove to nowhere. For three hours we ran between trains. Men were not allowed anywhere. Finally we managed to get on the train. We realized where we were going on the way. We were going to Kovel (a city in the Volyn region – ed.). Through volunteers I found contacts of people who sheltered us. The people were very nice. From Kovel we drove another two hours to the border of Poland and Belarus.
I took only my laptop with me. Thank God I remembered about it in a hurry, because I would have been left without work. Mom took only the two lousy T-shirts, because where to get new ones? In addition, we saw how many things were thrown out of the wagons to accommodate people, so we did not risk it. We left two cats and dogs at home, one of them was in the yard. We had agreed with a neighbor who stayed behind that he would feed the pets. We were sure that we would return in a few days.
But, as the saying goes, it never rains but it pours, and we felt it on ourselves… We experienced the departure of our relatives from the hot-spots of the country. There was a real chaos in our heads, but you quickly get used to it, until even more pain comes. We read about the rockets arriving in Irpin every minute, we prayed for those who stayed there, we dream of peace, like all Ukrainians, we try to donate the money we can afford to transfer to the Armed Forces or volunteers, we live with strangers.
On March 17, we saw on the news that the residential complex “Irpinskie Lipki”, where we bought an apartment long before the war, was burning. We did not understand what to do, because we could not do anything. This powerlessness just kills you. The war brings unbearable pain from day to day.
I will never forget March 18. We went with my mother to the lake to take a walk and relax. Then my mother received a phone call, and I heard my mother’s unbearable scream, accompanied by tears. Strong emotions filled me, but next to my mother, I could not show how much it hurt me. We had two private houses – one of them burned to the ground, not even a brick remained. The house built by my great-grandmother is gone.
Then I went out into the field and cried. In one second to have everything, and to be left with nothing. And the pets? It seemed that life was over. There is no one to get special support from…
My mother just lay there for three days devastated, without strength. She thanked God that we were alive, that we were not in the house at that moment. But the pain did not subside. The pain from the fact that all the pets were killed, everything that we have gained for many generations was destroyed. We are alive, but morally devastated. What is next?
In April, the city was liberated. My father, without telling us anything, went to see what was left. He hoped that the second house, after repairs, and the garage with the car had survived. It was the main income of the family.
But no. There were at least 5 attacks on all the buildings on our territory. Everything was destroyed – the second house, the garage and the car. On the territory of the residential complex, there are no more signs of life.
In May we returned to the same apartment in the residential complex. Without any communications, with broken windows and torn doors. I’m not even talking about any bathroom or toilet. You come to the house every day. It is burnt, smashed by shells, all black. The second house with a garage is beaten with the roof torn out. We were told – either save it now, or it will be demolished, they charged an unaffordable amount. The first house is not subject to restoration, but the second one can be saved.
Until the night, the three of us were clearing the rubble around the houses, laying pipes at night and so on. I am an optimist in life, and perhaps this is the only thing that saves me and my mother from the terrible reality. We believe in victory, but the time torn out of life cannot be returned.
Accept it? No, it’s not possible. Does it hurt? Very much. It will stay with me forever. You really want to return to your home, in your thoughts you enter the whole house every time, touch all your things, hug your pets, go to your room, but all this is gone.
The war has been going on for more than six months – we have no stable income. Even with time, this amount will be unaffordable. To dismantle the main house (reconstruction is impossible) we will need over a hundred thousand, but much more.
Now, I am using all possible means to return to my family the part of life that was stolen from us. They stole the main thing from us – many years of work and effort that we have invested in this house. But I believe in the compassion of good people, and I am sure that we will get everything back!
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Чому важливо поширити цю історію?
Якщо українці не розповідатимуть свій погляд на війну в Україні, світ поступово забуватиме про нас. Натомість цим обов’язково скористаються росіяни. Тому не даймо їм жодного шансу.
Why is it important to share this story?
If Ukrainians do not share their views on the war in Ukraine, the world will gradually forget about us. Instead, the Russians will definitely take advantage of this. So let's not give them a chance.
АвторAuthor: Anastasia Milenko | Translation: Mykhailova Valentyna