АвторAuthor: Iryna Hyliuk | Translation: Nataliia Herasymova Gronskaya
19 May 2022
Maryna Medvedeva is one of millions of Ukrainian women who have been forced to leave their homes and travel abroad to save their children from the flames of war. Her story is a story of the pain and suffering of millions of Ukrainians who are called refugees. Maryna Medvedeva is a psychologist by profession. Her knowledge and experience have helped her overcome many trials, and now she is helping those who need it.
On February 24, our son had just turned 7. As usual, waiting for gifts, he woke up early. We greeted him and started getting ready for school, where he was already waiting for greetings from classmates and teachers. Then the first explosion took place, and we lived not far from the place where the rocket landed on the first day. The second explosion took place when the son was in the hallway. The front door of the private house resonated, and he got scared.
Then there was the shock. reluctance to believe it. Confusion in the mind. We decided to go to Cherkasy, because when the missile hit the warehouse where the ammunition was to be stored, they announced the evacuation of the 16-kilometer zone. It turned out later that our military was preparing for this arrival, and everything was taken out of the warehouse in advance, so no one was damaged. But we got scared back then.
In the evening, we still celebrated my son’s birthday with the family at my mother’s house in Cherkasy. We celebrated as much as we could, although we planned to go to a cafe. They got a frozen pizza from somewhere… But the child had a celebration.
The next day, my husband received a call from acquaintances who served and advised him to leave. It says more hits are expected. Our house is not adapted to survive the war. It is a frame house; there are no two-supporting walls or basement. There’s nothing to help us in terms of security. Our child is vulnerable. We went to the summer house for a couple of days (60 km from Cherkasy), and finally ended up in Germany.
The husband’s eldest son from his first marriage had to be transported to Lviv, and from there to Spain to his mother. We all went together and decided to stick to the pile. During the whole trip, I was trying to cope with the thought that my husband wants to stay at home, join the defense, defend his home, and we burden him because he is worried about us, because women must save children.
We sent the elder abroad to his mother. I did not want to go abroad. It was a difficult decision to stay with my son and mother in the west of the country. I had previously agreed with my Instagram subscriber, who lives in the Carpathians, that they would provide us with shelter. Since then, she has become a friend, and it is very valuable to find close people at such a time.
Of course, I wanted to be together with my husband with all my heart, to live somewhere in a remote village and work for victory. But that’s what the little girl inside me was saying. And the adult part of me, of course, realized that I could not tie him up; he wanted and had the right to defend us there with weapons.
We lived in a Carpathian village for 4-5 days. We were welcomed. But the house was so small that we actually sat on strangers’ heads. In addition, I was pressured by my sister, who lived in Germany. And then there were some acquaintances who were going from Chernivtsi to the Romanian border, so I agreed.
“Until February 24, you were a person with your own practice, in your own home. And now you are in a foreign country, at a gas station…”
The road to Lviv lasted 19 hours. In a small crowded car, it was a test for us, but compared to what we went through, I remember it with a smile.
We got into the car with a stranger and spent 12 hours at the Romanian border. Then we spent the night in Romania at a gas station because we crossed the border at night and couldn’t find a single hotel. The drivers had to rest. They cooperated somewhere and warmed up in a car. It is 2 degrees below zero outside. My mother went to someone else’s car, and my son and I got cozy and spent the night in the back seat of the car. Because there was no way back in such situations, it is likely that some internal forces accumulated in order to survive…
I huddled with my son and thought: until February 24, you were a person with a name, with your practice, in your own home, with money. And now you are in a foreign country, at a gas station, in someone else’s car, without money (only hryvnias with you, and the card is empty). And what’s next? Nothing is clear at all. These are the thoughts I had… Yes, it doesn’t sound so solid in comparison to what other people are experiencing, but for me it was a shock.
There are many volunteers in Romania. Ukraine is supported here. We were just caught on the road. Children were given toys and sweets, and they offered us coffee. But Hungary is not so hospitable: passport control was renewed there, and toilets were paid for… Then we went to Germany via Austria. It took us 3 days.
To be a refugee is to feel an unspeakable longing for home and an unwillingness to accept reality.
It is to cherish hope by reading the news and to lose it by reading the following. Constantly update the feed, hoping to see that you can come back. And I hear on the phone: “It’s not time yet.”
It is like collecting the wreckage of a broken heart every time you watch the news.
It is to learn the language and look for a job, despite the reluctance, because you do not want to live off somebody else; it is inconvenient. Or look for opportunities to continue your work in Ukraine online.
It is to learn to shed tears when no one sees them.
It is to lie in someone else’s bed at night, howling in a pillow of helplessness and wanting to touch a loved one at least once…
It is to keep in touch with him and pretend that you have everything you need, because it’s hard for him there too.
It is to feel intense guilt for your suffering because someone else is suffering more…
It is to get out of bed, despite everything, thinking about how much longer you can take it.
It is desperately looking for something to rely on in the face of this ordeal.
“It is silently swallowing the phrase “you left, then shut up there.” Because you will not understand it until you experience it. And people pour out their pain as best they can”
It is to read refugee instructions from those who have never been one.And grieve.
It is to defend the fact that you are from Ukraine, that you have a home there and have someone to return to, and to beg to be given better weapons against the enemy than the conditions for assimilation abroad.
Yes, it’s safe and sieved, but you always have the feeling of everything being foreign, even the room in which you live. And fear, constant fear that you will not be able to return, meet…and whether you will be able to do it at all. This fear is suffocating me.
It is to see that your child is just living its childhood and to persuade yourself that you did everything right every time.
It is always good to be grounded, to live here and now.
I hate the word “hold on,” but that’s the way it should be now. It is war now. And yes, I cry and want to go home. And I have the right to do so.
From the very first day, I kept in touch with clients, especially with Kyiv and Kharkiv residents. I provide crisis consultations online for free. Subsequently, I gradually resumed practice. But this did not deprive me of fear for my family.
Helping other people adds resources to your life. When you see hope in the eyes of others, you feel it settling in your soul.
Distractions and switching to work do not help to alleviate the pain. As a psychologist, I understand that this is not the way out. The accumulated tension will go away, so I allow myself to feel emotions, yearn, and do everything at my own pace.
It was hard to think that in the 21st century, when people have learned to fly into space, cooperate with states, grow, create, rebuild, teach, learn, develop, there could be such an atrocity. When a gross, senseless force comes and just destroys everything. Our whole peaceful world has suddenly become so fragile, so brittle. It is enough to fly a rocket to break our lives at once.
How has such ugly evil grown and matured in the modern world? It’s just awful. On the other hand, the struggle for life continues. How people can unite! How they help each other! How empathetic they can be! And our military is defending our country so much that it inspires a lot of faith and hope. Such contrasts are evident: on the one hand, continuous evil, and on the other hand, continuous good.
Ukraine has now become an outpost of self-identification. We are now showing the world how to protect your values and your home. Here in Germany, those who emigrated long ago blame our mentality. And I tell them: “If it weren’t for our mentality, Russian tanks would have been driving through your German streets for a long time!”
I really want to go home. I think I will return before victory. I already don’t care about sirens! My husband says it’s too early. And I’m just waiting for the signal from him.
After the victory, I will be happy and will let myself do what I want. You forbid yourself so much, you save so much for later. You meet people’s needs by working, achieving goals, and earning money. And all this becomes secondary in an instant. And you understand that the main thing is to be close to relatives, be safe, do some small everyday things, and spend more time at home, in your garden, with your husband and son. These are my biggest dreams today.
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: Iryna Hyliuk | Translation: Nataliia Herasymova Gronskaya
“Until the last moment, I hoped that russia would not dare to launch a full-scale attack, but relying on 2014, I knew that someday it would happen,” – this is a story of a woman from Luhansk who is fleeing the war for the second time already