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  • Українці розповідають про пережите під час війни з росією

    Ukrainians talk about their experiences during the war with russia


    Anastasiia Lysenko: “Russians were taking away phones from those who tried to call their relatives in Kherson”

    Life under fire

    АвторAuthor: Oleksandr Nikitin | Translation: Mariia Orletska

    5 July 2022

    Before the war, Anastasiia Lysenko had lived in Zaporizhzhia and worked as a nurse. Her city was close to areas of active hostilities so she suffered constant stress and decided to move to Truskavets. Her relatives are now under occupation. To reach family or relatives by phone, residents of the Kherson region were forced to look for mobile communication at the highest points of their yards.

    I was born in the Kherson region, but before the war started I had lived in Zaporizhzhia and worked as a nurse in a children’s hospital. Although I had to leave the city, I still occupy that position.

    A few weeks before February 24th, there had been rumours about a possible war, but somehow I didn’t believe that it would happen. On February 23rd, I worked a night shift. So, the war caught me at work. At approximately 3:30 – 4:00 I heard a hum, then again. It was not clear what was happening. But, after the second such hum, I realized that the war had begun. I did not see what exactly flew by, it was scary to open the window. I didn’t know what to do, so I went out and told my colleagues that the war had started. Of course, everyone was confused and scared.

    In the first days of the war, gas stations, shops, and ATMs were overcrowded. It was difficult to withdraw money, because there was a limit, which means that you could only withdraw a certain amount of money.

    Zaporizhzhia in the first days of the war

    Zaporizhzhia in the first days of the war Photo from the Facebook page of the mayor of Zaporizhzhia – Anatoly Kurtev

    It seems that the war is a stressful period when you are reluctant to do anything, and I, on the contrary, took up household chores like laundry. It is clear that I was doing so because of the emotions. I just wanted to be busy with something. The following day, I asked myself: “The war is outside, and do I really need to do these household chores?” That’s why on the first day I experienced these events more calmly, and on the second day there was already stress. Everything that happened around began to be perceived in a completely different way.

    “It was scary to leave, and now it’s scary to come back”

    In the first days of the war, gas stations, shops, and ATMs were overcrowded. It was difficult to withdraw money, because there was a limit, beyond which you could only withdraw a certain amount of money.

    A month and a half passed in such an emotional state before I managed to leave. I talked with my family and then decided to leave on the evacuation train  “Zaporizhzhia – Lviv” on April 16th. For a long time I could not decide: should I go or stay ? At first, I thought about going abroad, but eventually evacuated to Western Ukraine. I rested in Truskavets many times, I knew the city, I had acquaintances from whom I had previously rented an apartment. At first, I wanted to find an apartment myself, but everything was taken. So I did not find anything – neither through acquaintances nor through the Internet. Then I turned to another acquaintance who owned apartments. He provided me with accommodation, so I knew where I was going to stay.

    Since I know Truskavets a little, it was not so difficult for me in terms of adaptation. But, for the first four weeks, I was so reluctant to do anything and often cried. Now I seem to have moved on from it a little.

    “There were many of those who relocated to Truskavets, we made acquaintances with each other as well as helped by saying where to go to get help. The war united people from different cities”.

    We are now involved in volunteering so we help distribute humanitarian aid. We also went to help at a local cafe that cooked free lunches for displaced people. I was tired of sitting without work, that’s why I decided to bring some benefit to people.

    I plan to return to Zaporizhzhia as I understand that I cannot just sit like that for a long time. I tried to find a job here. However, there are problems with this, Truskavets is a small resort town. There is one hospital and a sanatorium which also let displaced people stay. Thus, there was no medical base and vacationers wouldn’t come. Their workers were also out of work. I went to the sanatorium and asked if there was a vacant job, they told me that there was none. Then I went to look for work in stores, but there was nothing there either. I think that they don’t want to hire temporary relocated people because we are, as they say:  “today they stay, and tomorrow – they go”.

    Read also: Vitalii: “The most difficult thing was to keep calm during the shelling because the women were very afraid”

    It was scary to leave, and now it’s terrifying to come back. I understand that despite missile attacks, Zaporizhzhia is now more or less safe. I am not sure but I plan to return by the end of June. People say different things about the situation in the city. Someone says that Russians have advanced a little towards Zaporizhzhia from the direction of Vasylivka, and there may be an attack. Others say that nothing like that will happen… So, it is not yet clear how the situation will develop.

    “People under occupation live only at the expense of what they managed to accumulate”

    My relatives are currently under occupation in the Kherson region. There is no Internet anymore, a mobile connection was there before, although it sometimes disappeared. From June 1st, the Internet and communication disappeared. Then the mobile connection appeared on June 3rd, and disappeared again. To call relatives by phone, people have to climb the ladder that leads to the attic. If you climb to the highest point, you can still “catch” a mobile connection.

    There is a street in the village that leads to the cemetery and is on a hill. People found that spot and drove there if they needed to call someone. But, unfortunately, there are now many traitors and, obviously, someone “surrendered” this place. After that, Russian soldiers started driving around, asking people what they were doing there. They began to disperse people from there, and after that they completely shut down mobile communication.

    Next, they drove cars without a “Z” mark so that people could not recognize them. They started taking away people’s phones. From that moment, no one dared to go there. So now people are looking for a mobile connection somewhere at home — at the highest points.

    A rally of residents of  Kherson region in support of Ukraine

    A rally of residents of Kherson region in support of Ukraine Photo by Suspilne Kherson

    Morally, it is very difficult for people under occupation now, because they do not know what and how will happen next. Banks are not working there. Privatbank has not been working since March, because Russians simply robbed it and took away the cash register. Oschadbank is also not working, probably since the end of April. There is no encashment, no money is brought in. People live at the expense of what they have managed to accumulate. And in the future, this problem will only grow, because without the Internet, people will not be able to either transfer money or use cash.

    If before the war we valued some material things, now we understand that happiness is not measured by that. The most important thing is life. After the end of the war, it will still be very difficult and we will take a long time to get out of this situation. But, I hope that everything will end well.

    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: Oleksandr Nikitin | Translation: Mariia Orletska

    Life under fire

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