АвторAuthor: Iryna Hyliuk | Translation: Iryna Myronenko
8 June 2022
On the day of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, Kyiv resident Svitlana Malezhik and her family went to visit friends in Hostomel. They thought it would be safer there than in the capital. The next 19 days, 8 people, including three children, spent in the basement. Almost without light and internet, under shelling and explosions. They made 5 attempts to break out of the environment. And when they left, you helped three other people.
One week before the full-scale invasion, my husband asked me to go to Poland, where our daughter lives in Warsaw. But I didn’t want to leave without him. Then we agreed: if the war starts, he will leave work, and I will take my son and we will meet with our friends in Hostomel. At that time, no one could have imagined that Russian troops would leave Belarus.
On the 24th of February we left the house at about 7 am, but we left only at half past one on the 12th day. Very large traffic jams formed on the road to Hostomel. We went, we didn’t understand anything, but the main thing for us was to escape from Kyiv. And for a quarter of 12 helicopters flew.
I remember the time well, because I was about to meet online for the 12th year. I am a financial coach and have taught my group. Even then, I thought I shouldn’t cancel it, and opened the laptop. And here in the room a man flies in: “What are you? Quickly to the basement! They are shooting!”
Helicopters are circling above us, and my friends’ children are not at home. They just went somewhere. How worried we were about them! And when they returned, they said that they were shot at from the air, but, fortunately, they did not aim.
We all went down to the basement of a private house and slept there that night. We are a family of our friends, the three of us and another girl. And so they lived in Hostomel for 19 days.
Hostomel started bombing on the first day. Helicopters and planes circled over the airport and destroyed the Dream plane. We saw the fire and explosions were heard in the basement all night. And we thought we should get out of here the next morning. But when they got up, they saw helicopters flying and it was impossible to leave.
The next day there was no light. But there was a generator in the farmhouse, and I started it twice a day to pick up water, to crumple in an ice shower, to wash something. And ate twice a day. Those who cooked, had breakfast and lunch in the morning. And they charged the phone a little bit to call our daughters and tell them that we were alive and well.
The worst thing was that we had a connection or not. We know what is happening here, and the doc there, in Warsaw, went crazy… So worried about us.
Somewhere between 3 and 5 o’clock in the morning, some of us were a little caught up in the Internet. And when we succeeded, we learned the news. I didn’t have it at all. I could only call on the phone and sometimes. They kept firing and we were afraid that they would shoot at the house. There were holes in the fence, the debris slightly damaged the roof, a bullet hit the glass of the winter garden… The dogs were scared. You are outside for a couple of minutes – and it will take place in the house.
They slept in the basement, but a few days later got used to the shots and in the short breaks between them increased with the basement in the first stage to get them or do some other things.
I did not believe that this was the reality! But on the 14th day I saw that you can get used to even that! We have already adapted and knew that during the shelling you should run to the shelter, and when you can stay upstairs…
Many ask me, how did I cope psychologically in such a situation (19 days in Gostomel, in the very epicenter of the war, under constant shelling)?
I can assure you that I have never gone through such a reassessment of values and this profound transformation so quickly. And because of pain and fear she met a new one. I am a financial coach, I have invested a lot in myself and right now I am using this life and activity. And all my teachings, practices, skills did not go anywhere. I understood the main thing – I have me.
What helps me?
“I stopped fighting the situation and thinking about how it could have happened. Reconciled that now the war and another life has come. And I was thinking about how to make it more comfortable for these conditions”.
I understand how the brain works and what the consequences of living the bad news are. Therefore, such new attempts were decided to be understood as a fact and not included. And I was happy with the good news.
I found new goals that inspired and motivated me. And every night I thought about what else I want. I thought not only about how to escape, but also what I want next.
To stay in shape, I did the usual things for myself: yoga in the morning, fitness, English, books in the afternoon.
I watched my feelings and emotions. She lived them and helped herself when they poured out fear, anger, pain and more. Somewhere on the 14th day in the hostel I became hysterical. I coped with it and after that there was an inner clarity that we will come out, that there will be such a moment. And so it happened.
And we had good company. We were very supportive of each other. And in general, when we worry about others, it’s very much for yourself.
And the most important thing is myself, my condition and self-confidence. I saw what depended on what happened to me and my loved ones. I often can’t influence the circumstances. But I can manage my time, condition, focus, actions. My fulcrum is mine.
We lived in Hostomel for 19 days. At first we expected that now everything would be resolved, we will win. And then they realized that it was a difficult situation. On the 12th, there was information that there would be “green corridors”. First in Bucha, then in Irpen, then here. Our daughter and daughter of the owner of the house constantly monitored the site. And they gave us a number to call and find out the latest news.
We made five attempts to leave. I won’t count the sixth, because we just went out of the gate when we heard the shooting and came back.
“On the first day we went “along the corridor”, the green collection point was not far from us. They stood in traffic jams for six hours. And then the Russian armored personnel carriers and the tank arrived, during maneuvers the tank approached the same mini. And we were told: “Everything! Everyone at home!” We had to maybe”.
The next day we tried again. It was necessary to get Hostomel to the place where those who wanted to leave were going. But the Russians forbade them to leave by car, allowing only those who were ready to walk. It was not something for us, because we have to get to the border.
After the tank exploded, the collection point for leaving the “green corridor” was opened far from us. It was very scary to go there. Russian military equipment stood on the road, a mortar was fired at us and we were ordered to stop. We drove. Friends were not going to leave at that time. Our car was searched and not allowed to move on.
The next day I escaped again. We got up in the morning, but the owner from the second floor saw that a group of armed men was going from house to house, searching. The Russians took boxes out of their homes and loaded them into a car. We realized that they would come to us too. Where to go? We waited.
So that the military would not break the gate, the owner himself came out to meet them with a white rag and warned us.
We were all ordered to leave. So we stood under the muzzles of armored personnel carriers and machine guns. It was scary. They were 6 armed men. They inspected the house, took nothing and left. Then we realized that we need to go as soon as possible.
And acquaintances just told about the horrors they saw in Bucha: how they killed people on bicycles, how the dead lay just on the asphalt… Let’s say, while riding is worse than staying at home, we still hesitated, but when the probability of being killed at home became no less, we did it.
It was very scary to take out. We heard from people that cars were shot at indiscriminately. The village of Blystavytsia is located near Hostomel. I was talking to a woman, a daughter-in-law, who was trying to leave the occupied village. The car was shot. She was shot in the leg and her 15-year-old son was killed. And the wounded mother with her dead son and frightened daughter sat in the basement for a long time. It’s so scary when you know that someone is in such trouble, and there is no help.
I am very grateful to my friends that they also decided to go with us. The owner of the house collected a few more cars and a small column of 5 cars was already moving from our yard. It was a little safer.
“I had a place in the car and we wrote that we could take more people. We were asked to go and choose one man with a disability, and on the way I suggested another woman with an old mother to leave Hostomel. “
As we approached the first small checkpoint, more than 10 cars gathered. We were searched, and mobile phones were smashed so that there were no videos and photos. And then we moved to the “green corridor”.
On the way we saw armored personnel carriers in the yards, and people live there! It was scary – around the ashes, holes in the walls of houses, bullet marks in fences, smashed windows. It was hard to look at. It was very difficult at heart.
On the first day in the evening we entered Bila Tserkva, then moved to Khmelnytsky, then to Novovolynsk. The man took us to the border, and he returned. Now we have daughters in Warsaw.
Now I’m used to living differently. Far from the man. In another country, with another language. Along with both children. I’m recovering a little. He has already held several meetings with his groups, with whom he worked before the war (how scary to realize this). The couple performed in Poland.
It is very difficult to read news about the city that is on fire. Every day I pray that people will endure and survive!
In addition, my candles remained in the Brovary district. He was 80, she was 84. For a month they sat without gas, in the cold, warming each other. Ade you called refused.
When the mayor of Brovary confirmed that the entire Brovary district had been liberated from Russian troops, we breathed a sigh of relief. Thank you, Armed Forces of Ukraine! I also want to thank those who organize help and volunteers!
Parents are constantly brought medicine, rations, food is always enough. To tears… Such victories are the future victory of Ukraine!
“Gratitude is a feeling that has overwhelmed me in recent months. Incredible people meet on my way. This has always been the case, but during the war I began to notice it even more”.
First, the Zakharchenko family is Svitlana and Vasyl, with whom we spent these 19 days in Hostomel. Their home and attitude helped to survive those horrors, and Vasily organized our trip.
I am grateful to all our relatives, friends and volunteers who helped us find ways out and provided support.
I am grateful to my friends in Bila Tserkva who fed, clothed and provided their home with a hot shower. Thank you to the friends who gave us comfort in Khmelnytsky for a few days.
And then the Poles. Volunteers in Uzhhond organized a process to make it easier to get a pesel (code in Poland). The son was often admitted to school. Free lunches are provided. Polish language training was organized.
People are our strength!
We lost a lot. That is a fact. But… We live and can rise. For myself, my future and my children. Our victory is inevitable, and it is only a matter of time.
But right now our victory depends on each of us.
At your online marathon “Focus on Life”, I stressed that you need to remember your qualities, abilities, skills, expertise, ability to communicate. Analyze what helps you get through difficult moments and emerge victorious. Do you really think that what you have been investing in for several years does not make sense now?
When we raise this issue during consultations, participants are sometimes surprised at how much they have, and they simply forget about it.
I shift my focus from what we have lost to what strength of spirit we now have.
The war showed how important it is not to reflect on life later, but to use the second we have.
And live! Every day! Every minute.
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: Iryna Myronenko