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  • Українці розповідають про пережите під час війни з росією

    Ukrainians talk about their experiences during the war with russia

    Shelling of the village of Horenka

    Kateryna Myronenko: «Ways converged when both families were looking for salvation»

    Life under fire

    АвторAuthor: Inna Molchanova | Translation:

    7 May 2022

    The full-scale war took the Myronenko family by surprise, as did the whole of Ukraine. On the first day, they heard and saw explosions near Gostomel. Until recently, the family believed that trouble would pass their home. Neighboring houses were set on fire by shells, and the occupiers looted and killed civilians. We left by a happy coincidence. Kateryna Myronenko told how she managed to survive twelve days of horror.

    On the first day the tanks drove in

    On the first day of the war we had emotions. At 5 am my husband woke me up and said, “Wake up, it’s started.” I jumped out of bed and turned on the computer to read the news. We still had light at that time, there was water. First of all, I called in Kharkiv, because I was from there and my mother lives in this city.

    “How are you?” I ask my mother. Instead, she replies that everything is calm. Explosions have already been heard in Gorenka, Bucha district, where my husband and son and I lived. We kept going to work, I painted because no one called or hung up. We usually woke up early, because we worked in Kyiv and it took two or three hours to get to work. At about 8 o’clock in the morning I read the news that tanks were coming to Pivnichni Saltivka in Kharkiv.

    “Mom, tanks! What is happening to you? ”I called in Kharkiv again. In response, I hear that everything is quiet in them and she washes clothes.

    The house in Horenky

    Kateryna with her son near the house in Horenky

    I do not tire of repeating to her that the Russian army has entered, but my mother still calmly answers that she washes and washes the floor. Now, so you can understand, I can’t talk to my mother calmly. When she speaks, she immediately begins to cry. She is still not going to evacuate, because this is her native town, where she lived for 62 years.

    “No one will drive me out of my house, I will stay in my native town,” she told me firmly.

    Today my cousin, who was transferred from the other end of the Saltivka housing estate in the east of Kharkiv, lives with my mother. Two elderly women are in my apartment, praying, crying, and receiving humanitarian aid.

    We saw our «Mriya» burning

    Our house stood on a small peak, so right from the window we saw Gostomel and Bucha, as if on the palm of our hand. We could see the hangar where our “Mriya” was located – An-225, we saw it burning. The cities were constantly attacked and captured. Many helicopters flew from the north of Belarus, bombing residential areas. It was scary to watch, we held on and believed to the last that it would pass us by.

    Explosions in Hostomel

    View from the village of Gorenky to Hostomel, where the airport is located

    Locals fled their homes en masse

    There are two houses in our yard. One of them we rented from the hostess, and in the other she lived alone. The woman left on the 4th, and offered to drop us off in Kyiv, but we didn’t know where to flee. March 5 was my birthday, we didn’t want to plan anything that day, although it was getting scarier at home. A day and a half later, people began to leave en masse. Every car with free seats stopped right on the street, the door opened.

    “Sit down, we’ll get you out of here,” they offered from each car.

    We hesitated for a long time. We watched the hostess house, we had enough food. Doubts were finally dispelled when they began to talk about the looting of orcs. Locals throughout the village reported that the Russian army was going from house to house, killing men, raping women, and stealing. We were very afraid of this, because we understood perfectly well that these are not people, but animals, and if they are “not friends with the head”, they can safely do so.

    Destroyed house in Horenky photo

    Neighboring house where the shell flew in Horenky

    All this time we went under fire to charge the phones, because we no longer had water or light. We spent the night in the basement. In order not to freeze, the hoods were covered, mattresses and blankets were moved from the house. As soon as they heard the explosions, they jumped from the run into the basement. It was not very safe, because jumping there was only bruises and scratches, and it could be worse.

    The shells began to fly directly into neighboring houses. They were engaged and burning. Bombed at full speed, we began to think that everyone here will burn down. My six-year-old son, looking at it all, perceived the situation as a blockbuster. However, later, when we left, his psyche adapted, he understood everything and began to worry a lot. When the plane flew, he fell to the floor. When I heard the siren, hysteria began. Although he is a very independent and brave boy, try to scare him.

    The dog shifted gears, and the cat jumped on the windshield

    We left Gostomel on March 6. This was at a time when the defense had already been lifted in the village and our army was entering. There was a special turning point. In the morning they each packed a backpack and a package of documents. The rest of the things were “buried” in the basement, preserved in case of fire. People told us that there was an evacuation bus to Puscha-Vodytsya to Kyiv, so we planned to go from there to Cherkasy, because my husband comes from there. So we just walked down the street. Luckily for us, a man called us as we passed a neighbor’s house. By the way, we have never talked to him before.

    “People! Help out. You have rights, ”he shouted at us. “There is a car, but no rights.” 

    “Man, let’s go,” we exclaimed without hesitation, because my husband and I both have rights.

     We throw things in the car. A neighbor takes his father, two large shepherds, a cat, me and my husband and son. We all barely fit in a small sedan. So we go for three days to Uzhgorod, because there lived relatives of the neighbor. I don’t know who to thank: the Lord, the Universe, or destiny for what happened. Our paths converged at this time, when both families were looking for salvation.

    We drove very hard, a lot of cars, checkpoints. There was a husband  behind the wheel all the time so that there were no questions at the checkpoints. He did not let me drive, because I had a fever. Whether because of a nervous condition or a cold, but drank antipyretics. One shepherd was sitting in the front seat with our neighbor’s father, she was constantly shifting gears with her movements, and the cat could jump on the windshield or on the steering wheel. In general, it was another “pleasure”.

    They left Kyiv for five hours. Then we went to the Odessa highway. There were also a lot of cars, especially with Kharkiv license plates. It was sad to realize that my native  town of two million was fleeing the war.

    Now we live in a dormitory, we have relatively normal conditions. We didn’t start living with our neighbor, because as many as 26 people came to his relatives’ house. We are happy to be able to get out, we are grateful to everyone who helped us, worried about us. I hope that our country will win and we will live on our land again, where we will raise our children and rebuild what we have lost.

    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: Inna Molchanova | Translation:

    Life under fire

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