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  • Українці розповідають про пережите під час війни з росією

    Ukrainians talk about their experiences during the war with russia

    Liudmyla Afanasieva

    Liudmyla Afanasieva: “There is no “male” and “female” work during war. All are equal”

    Ukrainians abroad

    АвторAuthor: Yulia Zarudnitska | Translation: Diana Bevtsyk

    21 July 2022

    Liudmyla and her husband considered all possible courses of events even before the war. So when it all started, they immediately clarified roles. He fights, she helps in the rear. She went abroad with her daughter and feels special there. She recreated her chronology of history specifically for the “Monologues of the War” project.

    We knew this day would come, but we hoped we still had a little time. On February 24, we said goodbye without speaking. Because we understood that this could be our last meeting. The decision that my child and I would evacuate in the event of an invasion was made even before the war, because the most important thing was to save my daughter. She should live in peace, without explosions, sirens and, Heaven forbid, occupation. My husband knows very well what the Russkiy mir (Russian peace) is and what the Russians are capable of, so getting the child to safety is the first and most important thing.

    And here I am on the way with Kvitoslava for the second day, at least two more ahead. And he is defending Ukraine and it is not known how long this war will last… 

    I got to Poland by car. I was driving, the child was in a car seat, but when we were in traffic jams, the child was in my arms. The whole way from Kyiv to Warsaw took us four days. On the way, my friend joined us, she helped to entertain the child in the most difficult moments. 

    Family weekend

    Our happy family, enjoying a family weekend

    We stood at the border for two days, the kind citizens brought hot food, the child hardly endured the journey. You can’t walk much on the street, because there are cars, people, dirt everywhere… and you can’t keep her in the car either… The fact that the little one was breastfed saved me. She ate and calmed down!

    I remember that when I dozed off for a moment in the turned off car, I constantly had the feeling that the car was rolling and I immediately hit the brakes… And only then I did understand that we were standing still and it was just a delusion..

    After crossing the border, the fatigue was such that I saw everything in two dimensions. I’m driving, I see a tree or a street pole and I don’t understand if it’s ten meters away or right in front of me. 

    On the way to the Polish border

    On the way. Exhausted, tired, but holding on

    After the border, I drove 70 kilometers to the Guest House, which my brother rented, so that I could rest and move on in the morning.

    But already after my arrival, my state has had an effect. I go crazy every time I see married couples. My daughter Kvitka is a bright sunshine. She behaves better than all of us adults. She understands everything and perfectly deals with her direct duty – to bring everyone positive. 

    I constantly pray for Ukraine! For every soldier and volunteer! For everyone who provides the army. For everyone who helps people. 

    About roles in the war

    My husband and I agreed. Negotiations were held. Various options were considered. Arguments “for” and “against” were led. But in the end we agreed. He defends Ukraine. On the front line, not hiding from volunteerism and lack of military experience. I take care of our family, raise a child and earn money (because you have to rebuild everything for something). I am a volunteer. 

    So on X day we acted according to our plan. Without hesitation or doubt. I did not expect and do not expect the same or similar actions from others, I do not enter into disputes on this topic. But I believe that in times of war everyone should be where they are most effective… for the country. There are many roles you can choose from. If you have courage ,then go to the front. If you feel that it is not yours – carry provisions and dig trenches. If you are afraid to go to the front line (this is also normal, by the way!) — help women and children to leave. In general, if you can’t be where you hear shelling – look for your role further. You know how to demolish and hack Moscow sites — great! Handing out food to people standing in line at the border is great! You know how to find ammunition on foreign sites – well done! You feed the dogs at the shelter – thank you! You are sitting abroad and packing trucks for Ukraine – keep it up. There are no separate jobs for women and men in war. All are equal. The country needs each of us where we are.

    It seems that whole Poland now lives for Ukrainians

    During my stay in Poland, I am constantly faced with manifestations of care and support from local residents. They show it in different ways: the security guard of the residential complex treated me to chocolate; women often grabbed me by the shoulders and sternly asked if I had everything necessary for me and the child; another man offered to pay for gas; the couple with whom I lived for a few days entertained my child every evening so that I could rest. 

    Read also: “I would have been at work in 5 minutes and then I heard a strong explosion”, a press secretary of the head of the Kharkiv Administration told us about peculiarities of her work during the war

    Everyone is trying to help. There is a feeling that all of Poland now lives for Ukrainians. But that’s just the beginning of the story. 

    Today I visited the aid center for Ukrainians in Poland for the first time. There are a lot of them! The locals bring there everything they can and think is necessary. Volunteers sort it all and give it to those in need. There is a separate dining area where there is always something hot, sandwiches, tea, snacks and a lot of other things. Also clothes, household items, hygiene products and others.

    In the expectation of victory

    We are with Kvitoslava. We are looking forward to Victory and believe in the Armed Forces of Ukraine

    I came to get diapers and infant formula for the child. What I saw struck me to the core. There are many of us. Very. With children, suitcases, cats, dogs. Often confused. Devastated. Someone is sitting on a mat, someone mindlessly eats soup. There is chaos, but not global, I would say, tolerable. Everyone gets everything, everyone gets everywhere. Most are silent. 

    Poles are making noise. They are trying their best to give you EVERYTHING they can get their hands on. And what doesn’t fit will be put in a bag. They talk, ask and  treat. 

    One lady really offered me baby food in jars. I explained that I had everything I needed, but the arguments did not work and I had to take it anyway. Volunteer girls quickly find the right size from a bunch of diapers. And instead of a pack, I get as many as three. 

    Care is not about material things. It is about the desire to do everything and even more for you. Because now it is necessary. I am sincerely grateful to every person who comes across my path, because thanks to them I feel like a guest in this country, not a refugee! 

    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: Yulia Zarudnitska | Translation: Diana Bevtsyk

    Ukrainians abroad

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