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  • Українці розповідають про пережите під час війни з росією

    Ukrainians talk about their experiences during the war with russia

    Occupation of Velika Dymerka

    Iryna Selyuk: “I was afraid that we would be buried under the rubble of the house, leaving the children orphaned”

    Life under fire

    АвторAuthor: Juliya Baranko | Translation: Julia Baranko

    26 April 2022

    Iryna Selyuk’s family from the village of Velyka Dymerka, near Kyiv, lived under enemy fire for almost two weeks, but they still managed to evacuate together with their pets. At first, children and parents were rescued, but when it became too dangerous to stay at home, they decided to leave their home.

    5th in the morning on February 24

    Good evening, I’m from Ukraine. My name is Irina. I am 45 years old. Before the war she had a good job and plans for the future. But at 5 am on February 24, everything changed dramatically. I woke up to the sound of an explosion. The first thing that came to mind was the explosion at the Coca-Cola plant (carbonated soft drink – ed.). I woke up my husband and we started looking out the window. It was quiet there. Husband said that the sounds that do not subside are like a rocket blast and that it is about three or four kilometers from us. I immediately ran to the bedroom and woke up my daughter, told her to get dressed quickly. She didn’t understand what I wanted from her at that time and couldn’t wake up, but I told her in a commanding tone to get together quickly. Then she ran to her son and said: “Son, get up! War!”.  He looked at me as if in a crazy and said, “Mom, what are you doing?  What kind of war? ”

    At that moment, another explosion was heard…. The children’s meeting was quick. They threw essentials and documents into the suitcase. They put our children’s mothers-in-law and his niece in the car. They did not yet know where they would go, the only thing that was clear was that our children needed to be saved. Everyone cried because they didn’t know if we would see each other again…

    While our dearest people were fleeing the war, we were preparing the basement for a long stay. They brought water, food, candles, lanterns, and chairs so that they could sit down. The tension grew with each passing hour. The flow of cars was frantic and the explosions did not stop. The frightened cats hid under the beds and refused to go out. We decided to live with relatives to take turns sleeping and running to the basement as soon as we heard the sound of a rocket or an explosion. Late in the evening, parents called, said they had reached Western Ukraine, and found housing. Our long days of separation from the war have begun.

    Due to the constant sound of explosions, the sound of planes over the house, it was impossible to sleep. Time has stopped. We did not understand what day, what number. Constantly slept in clothes. It seemed to me that the shoes had grown to my feet. When the sounds of the explosions stopped, we had the opportunity to quickly change clothes and take a shower. Checkpoints on the city streets grew like mushrooms after the rain. We cooked food, made tea and coffee, “Molotov cocktails” and brought it to the soldiers. The husband instructed me how to properly throw a cocktail, where to aim and from which side there is every chance to set fire to enemy vehicles.

    The cats seemed to understand that they had to be obedient and did not fuss. A Bengali named Tessa, who used to walk outside, went out only to defecate and ran back, hiding under the sofa. Our Scottish Motya, who was frightened all the time, did not want to go out at all. The food of the cats ran out, and there was no opportunity to buy it somewhere. We decided to transfer partly to chicken filet.

    The worst thing is the onset of evening

    When evening came, the whole neighborhood plunged into darkness, infinitely long uncertainty. Nobody turned on the lights, they used flashlights in their phones. At the sound of artillery fire, they ran outside and watched where and where he was flying. At this time they were standing near the basement to have time to jump there if he was flying somewhere nearby. Very often headed towards Kiev. We saw shells bursting and tearing the capital to pieces. Some of them did not fly and exploded on approach. Very often there were calls from friends and acquaintances from different parts of Ukraine. Especially waiting for news from those who were at the epicenter of events. It was unbearably painful for the people who were under the bullets of the enemy and for those who, by fate, found themselves in the occupation of the orcs. We didn’t tell our parents that our shells were bursting so that they wouldn’t worry about us, but they saw everything in the news and knew…

    “It was reported that the neighboring village was under occupation and saboteurs began storming it. This was a decisive turning point, when everyone spontaneously decided to leave home, while there is such an opportunity”.

    Days went by. If you manage to sleep for a few hours before shooting, that’s fine. The days ceased to have a sign of numbers, it was just morning and evening. I get some sleep at night, I was afraid that the person on duty would not fall asleep and we would all be buried in the house, leaving the children orphaned. The last day before escaping from hell was very difficult. We were sitting in the basement and heard shell bursts nearby.

    It was reported that the neighboring village was occupied and saboteurs began to storm it. This was a crucial turning point, when everyone spontaneously decided to leave home while there is an opportunity. Gathered in a hurry with a flashlight on the phone. I searched for cats’ passports for a long time, even though they were lying in the most visible place. There was no time to even think about the soothing for animals, just to have time and stay alive. I thought we would go for a week or two, so I picked up tracksuits, jeans and underwear. And documents and a cat bed, because our Tessa loved to sleep there.

    We left early in the morning, driving through the village and realized that it was a kind of desert. There was no usual noise of cars, people. There were several cars with people. They made the same decision as we did – to evacuate. At the checkpoint, on the way out, we talked to acquaintances, they wished us good luck. We, in turn, said that we would return soon, because here our house and men will protect it. 

    It seemed to us then that if we moved to Kyiv, we would stay alive

    The road was very long. There were crazy queues at the South Bridge. It seemed to us then that if we moved to Kyiv, we would stay alive.

    Air raids were shouted, and explosions were heard nearby. Tessa kept running around the car, screaming, and I calmed her down. Motya was sitting on her nose and didn’t even make a sound. With us was the sphinx Monya, who was lying quietly in the seat of her husband’s sister.

    A curfew was ahead of us and we decided to spend the night in Vinnytsia. The man’s sister called acquaintances who sheltered us for the night. They slept restlessly, woke up all the time and listened to the explosions. In the morning we were brought sandwiches, and I cried in gratitude to these strangers who sheltered us and made sure we didn’t go hungry anymore.

    In some of the settlements we passed, girls aged 14-15 distributed tea and sandwiches to everyone. It was so touching that tears washed his face.

    We arrived at our destination on the second night. There were nine of us in three triple rooms and three cats. Everything was busy, but it was the safest. The children cried because they finally saw us in two weeks, and we cried because everyone was alive.

    Probably the most stressful of all cats was our Tessa. She slept all day. Only occasionally distracted by food. Here they were able to find dry food and the cat finally enjoyed his favorite taste of food.

    “I am most sorry that I did not take photos and pictures of my daughter. But the most valuable thing I managed to get out of that hell is life”.

    Today my village has been under occupation for two weeks without electricity, gas and food. Only recently have they been able to negotiate and organize humanitarian corridors to save people. Unfortunately, many were unable to reach collection points due to their health. More than 15,000 people lived in the village, and not many left the corridors … Recently we learned that the cursed orcs came to us in a tank in the yard, smashed windows and doors, looted the house, and mutilated what they could not bear. What I regret the most is that I didn’t take photos and pictures of my daughter… And I’m sorry (orchids, ed.), Because I had more than 60 of them.

    But the most valuable thing I managed to take from that hell is life. It cannot be put in a suitcase. It can only be saved.

    War comes when you don’t expect it. You do not know the exact date and time, as well as what will happen next. It just comes and destroys everything: cities, villages, homes, people, families, whole lives. There is no gender or age for her. She is cruel and ruthless to everyone without exception… ⠀

    War is not eternal. It will end, but it will never be the same again. There will be no familiar things nearby, there will be no homes that were completely destroyed, there will be no relatives nearby. We will be different. I don’t know what our lives will be like tomorrow, but my children will remember the horrors of this bloody war for the rest of their lives.

    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: Juliya Baranko | Translation: Julia Baranko

    Life under fire

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