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  • Українці розповідають про пережите під час війни з росією

    Ukrainians talk about their experiences during the war with russia

    Assistance to victims of shelling

    Olena Lesechko: «We left home and 15 minutes later it was shelled»

    Life under fire

    АвторAuthor: Yuliya Osadcha | Translation:

    7 May 2022

    Olena Lesechko is a psychologist from Cherkasy. For 12 years her family has been living in the capital and saving money for her own apartment. But just after she finally bought it, the Russian invasion forced her out of home. Before the war Olena worked at a kindergarten and held therapy sessions for adults. Now, she had to undergo therapy herself to be able to help others.

    Today all these experiences appear to have been a movie happening to someone else. It is still hard for me to describe the details but I still need to shun light on the stories of heroes saving people’s lives. For a long time we believed that after a while Ukraine will win, that everything is working out as it should. We were constantly hearing shots and explosions… On the 7th day of this nightmare we got frightened by the combat next to our house. We spent the whole night packing up and looking for a car to get to the evacuation point. We couldn’t find the car though, so we gave the aliments away to senior neighbors. Before we exited the building, we heard a loud explosion. That was the moment when the expression “Russian roulette” started to make sense. It was scary to stay home, but leaving was petrifying. Nevertheless, my ex-husband and I, together with three our children of 8, 6 and 14 years, decided to flee. To say we were terrified – is to say nothing…

    We approached the evacuation point at Irpin Biblican Church. We were lucky that volunteers organized the evacuation, handed out the fuel they brought with. There wasn’t any in town at that point.

    Evacuation of people from under the rubble

    Evacuation of people from Irpin. Photo by Maks Levin

    With canonade of explosions around us we had to part between different buses: children went in the bus with a window, adults – in the cargo truck without windows. The cars were flooded with people who managed to reach the evacuation point. We drove in a convoy, hoping for green corridor to be opened. On the roadway amidst the forest our driver Ihor Rohozhynzkyi told us that this was the most dangerous moment, since snipers controlled the entire area and could shoot him. It had already happened several times to drivers of evacuation vehicles. And all Ukrainians without exceptions are well aware that “green corridors” are actually blood red.

    We drove in total silence for eight hours straight. I was shocked by the unexpected fact that we lived in the “hot spot”. I though that whole Ukraine was in the same situation like Irpin: war, explosions and crossfire.

    15 minutes away from death

    On the road we heard that 15 minutes after we left home bomber planes shelled our street and our house. Neighboring buildings were without roofs, ablaze. At that time the balconies and windows of our house were shattered. Many of our neighbors were injured heavily. Some lost limbs.

    In Vinnytsia we resided in the church. They gave us food, calmed us down and let us sleep. It appeared that parish were helping the refugees on their own! These people are real saviors who rescued hundreds, thousands of people from hot spots. They took care of us for three days, until we finally got some rest and recovered. Then they drove everybody to wherever they needed. Many people helped us on the road! Glorious Ukraine! With gloruios people!

    My family moved to Chernivtsi. The first week in the city went by in a daze. I could not believe that I could go outside, was afraid of harsh sounds. It was hard to get a myself together. For several days I have been providing psychological support to children and adults, for free, of course. But to begin consultations I had to undergo therapy myself. Kids are gradually returning to online learning. My husband and I are divorced but I was lucky that he had come to visit the kids two days before the war started, so I wasn’t on my own. He stays with us now. We are looking for any job but we are cautios about leaving the kids alone for long – nobody knows what tomorrow will bring. I think that it is dangerous in all parts of Ukraine now but I don’t want to go abroad. My take on this is: if everyone leaves then who will be working here, helping? There’s much to do in the rear.

    The Lesechko family

    Olena Lesechko’s family

    I am smiling now, and there are two reasons for that: the first is – we are alive, we are okay, the most valuable is with me. Many can’t relate to that…

    Oftentimes I remember the Mother’s Park in Irpin, which was opened only half a year ago. Every day many women strolled through it with their kids. But on the 5 March, a woman and her son died there. The same day that we were fleeing from the war, some 500 meters from our house. Now I know where we will commemorate the children and mothers of Irpin who perished in this war.

    The grave of a mother and son

    The grave of a mother and son who were shot by the occupiers

    And the second reason for my smile is that I’m sure that victory is ours. Yes, we are fighting the devil incarnate (these are no nazis, I think even latter ones complied with the war’s rules) and I can’t imagine how much forces we will need, but we will win. That is why I’m smiling, We are growing stronger every day! With each grave! Memory Eternal to the children and mothers who perished in this war.

    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: Yuliya Osadcha | Translation:

    Life under fire

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