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  • Українці розповідають про пережите під час війни з росією

    Ukrainians talk about their experiences during the war with russia

    Vocalist of the group "The Pamphlets" Alya

    The Pamphlets frontwoman Alia: “Never stop thinking about Mariupol. As long as we speak about it, while we scream, write, or sing about it—it will live!”


    АвторAuthor: Inna Molchanova | Translation:

    2 June 2022

    The war split the life of young musician Alia (Oleksandra Lishchuk) into three parts. The largest one was filled with worrying about her family, who stayed in flaming Mariupol. Volunteer work helped Alia take her mind off  gloomy thoughts, and music helped her find a way to “scream” to the whole world that her city and family need to be saved.  

    My name is Alia. I’m 20 years old. I am a Ukrainian, a student at Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, and the frontwoman of the young Ukrainian band The Pamphlets. 

    I want to tell you about the pain that U have carried with me since the start of the war. I long avoided talking about it, but now is the time to sound the alarm. I was born in Mariupol, where I spent the best childhood with my family.

    For all these days, my heart was breaking into pieces because all I heard on the phone was, “The person you are trying to reach is  currently unavailable…” Mom. Dad. My brothers. Their wives. I could no longer reach my family, who were in their hometown, Mariupol, when the war struck.

    Alia's family hiding from the shelling in the basement

    Alia’s family hiding from the shelling in the basement

    My family was hiding from shellings in Mariupol in a cold basement: my parents, two older brothers and their wives, my newborn niece and two-year-old nephew, and my godmother. They would wake up at 4 every morning to the walls and ceiling trembling from explosions. My mother and godmother risked their lives every day when they went out of the basement to cook food for all the big family on an open fire. My niece, who was born on February 26,  spent the first weeks of her life unable to see the sunlight.

    I feel like she was born at this time to save our family. She was their guardian angel—it was for her that they didn’t let themselves give up, stay, die.

    All my childhood memories burned down

    My brother’s house, in whose basement my family was hiding, was the only one that stood for so long a time. Near it was a deep shell crater, and around, only smoke, fire, and death.

    My parents’ house burned to the ground. With it burned all my childhood memories, family albums, books, clothes. Every time I came back from Kyiv, I would delve into my childhood. Now all of it is gone, and I still can’t come to grips with it.

    The beautiful house that I used to pass by on my summer walks burned down too. I remember how my friend and I used to order tasty burgers in a local cafe, laugh, and have this sincere joy at the thriving and blooming city around us. All that is left of that place now is ruins. Instead of happy people, there is a car riddled with shells with a sheet of paper on it reading, “Children.”

    Alia's brother's home

    Alia’s brother’s home: its basement served as a bomb shelter for the family

    Mariupol had neither water nor gas. People cooked food on an open fire. Children died of dehydration. The city was covered with bodies—sadly, not only Russians’.

    The morning of March 8 was the happiest morning I had in all that time. It was the first time I had heard the voices of my father and brothers. They told me they were doing everything to survive. My family is safe now. On March 15, they left the city under fire. Thank God they survived.

    A way to take one’s mind off bad thoughts

    Since February 26, my friends and I have been volunteering in Lviv. As a singer, I find volunteer work a way to take my mind off bad thoughts and the negativity around me. hough overwhelmed with worries about my family,  when I saw someone asking for help, all my emotions receded into the background. I needed to run to pharmacies and stores and buy whatever we were asked for.

    Over all this time, we have managed to raise quite a hefty sum, considering that we are not a foundation and all our activities are fuelled by donations.

    As of today, we raised around $18,000 donated from all around the world. The funds are spent on clothing, provisions, and medicines for refugees, territorial defence, and the army. We have procured tactical gear for servicepeople and sent nine power generators and a drone to the front.

    Alia wrote a song in support of Mariupol

    I wrote the lyrics to the song Misto Marii — “The City of Mary” — when traveling to my family, who by some miracle managed to flee the hell that was Mariupol. The lines seemed to write themselves one by one in the bus from Lviv to Khust. When I came back to Lviv, I showed the lyrics to the guys. It so happened that the entire band has moved to Lviv—some earlier, some later on. Our guitar player Artur Beshimov started strumming chords, so the music composed itself. We didn’t change anything.

    Our drummer Roman Panasiuk recorded the cajón and percussion, and then our bass player Ivan Lishchuk recorded the bass part. We recorded everything in one room, where we were staying for the time being. We finalized, adjusted, and mastered the song on our own—and at home too.

    I dedicated the song to my big family who survived in Mariupol under fire: to my dear mother Edilia, my angel, the strongest woman in the universe; to my father Oleksandr, to my two brothers Hlib and Zahar, my courageous guardians.

    To my sweet godmother. To the beautiful wives of my brothers, Yana and Valeria. To my little angels: my nephew David and my niece Kseniia, who spent the first weeks of her life in the basement, amidst the sounds of explosions. To all the citizens of Mariupol who are still in that hell. To all the citizens of Mariupol who managed to get out. To everyone who needs some hope in their heart. To everyone who wants to come back. 

    I want to scream to the whole world. I am begging it to help the people of Mariupol, the entire city. But I can’t do anything myself. It’s the worst feeling in the world. I want my angels, my nephew and my newborn niece, to live a long, happy life in the free country. In Mariupol. Not in a cold basement where my David was hiding from the “thunder” but in a blossoming flowering park. Mariupol is my home, forever. I believe that its every corner will be filled with laughter and animated conversations once again. The theater park, where our families will walk, just like before the war. The Bilosarayska spit, where our children will enjoy their summer. The Veselka park, where we’ll once again take a photo among thousands of tulips for our kin from other cities to ask, “Did you go to the Netherlands or what?” The cozy Nielsen, where my mom and I will order our salads with a glass of wine. My parents’ home, which will welcome us every Sunday evening.

    The place in Mariupol where Alia used to walk, which is now ruined

    The place in Mariupol where Alia used to walk, which is now ruined

    We will return our city of Mary. I don’t know how much time it will take or energy, but it is bound to be. Never stop thinking about Mariupol. As long as we speak about it, while we scream, write, or sing about it—it will live!

    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:


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