АвторAuthor: Yulia Zarudnitska | Translation: Kateryna Doroshenko
25 July 2022
24-year-old Maria, originally from Zaporizhzhia. For the past four years, the girl lived in Kyiv and was engaged in creativity: she wrote books and made watercolor portraits. Three years ago, she got married and enjoyed family life – a beloved husband, a beloved dog and self-development. Until February this year. Now she is Lastivka (means “a swallow” in Ukrainian), a military medic who works on the front line, performing combat tasks in the eastern direction, in one of the hot spots, and saves wounded soldiers every day. She told the “Monologues of the War”project about the peculiarities of her work, conditions and realities of the war.
I remember that since childhood I was an extremely active girl: I was engaged in painting, figure skating, even a little horseback riding. But painting was my main hobby. I loved to read books and even then I tried to write them a little. I did not give up on my attempts to write. Even before the war, I worked on creating one book.
I come from Zaporizhzhia, so later, relying on my creative nature, I entered the Zaporizhzhia National University to get a degree in design. However, I did not finish my studies and do not have a higher education. I just realized that I wanted to develop in another creative direction: I was interested in painting, video editing and photography. Then I lived in the capital of Ukraine from the age of 20. And three years ago, I got married and thanks to my husband, I was able to develop in the directions that I really like and in which I see myself.
That’s how I came to the point that I started writing books. My weekday did not have a super-clear schedule: I woke up, went for a walk with my beloved dog (we have a Doberman breed), and then devoted myself to writing books or painting.
Previously, I also sold my paintings, I painted custom-made paintings and gave master classes on painting watercolor portraits. But that was quite a long time ago.
To be honest, I couldn’t believe that one day my creative routine would be put on hold because of the war. On the historic February 24, when the full-scale invasion began, I could not believe that this was happening here, to me. I did not believe that this was really a war. For some reason, there was hope that all this would end closer to the evening. But when we realized that this was not the case, my husband and I were already in the line of territorial defense the next day (hereinafter, TRO). This was the beginning of the journey in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, because later the TRO, which we joined, became a military part of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Of course, on February 24, I was scared, like everyone else. I was simply outraged by what was happening. I was in a state of shock and I didn’t want the war to come to my house. To the house and home of every Ukrainian. To a home where everyone does their own business and lives their own life. In the house where the rashists were not asked to “help”.
Now I am a platoon paramedic. It is the doctor who is on the front line with the boys. I provide them with pre-medical and medical care, and treat them if they suddenly fall ill. For them, I am the Swallow (military call sign, also “Lastivka” in Ukrainian), who is always nearby, 24 hours a day. By the way, the commander gave this name to me on the first day.
My task is to evacuate the wounded, provide them with assistance, stabilize them and transfer them to other medics, where they can provide more help. If there is no evacuation team, then, accordingly, we take the injured person to the hospital. Here, every day is memorable and remains in memory forever. This is a completely different life. Gradually, you begin to get used to other realities and appreciate every minute. For example, who would have thought that ordinary soup could be remembered? Maybe. I remember how we ate it under fire. The enemy fires at us with artillery, and we run with the containers, hide and continue eating. Because we really want to. At that moment, you think that if there is still a direct hit, then nothing will help you, so you eat at least.
But the most impressive and painful part is another story. Now we will have to rewind the story to the beginning, where I, together with my husband, just came to fill the ranks of the TRO. I was the chief of the medical service of the battalion. It’s interesting, because I don’t have a medical education, but I have a talent for managing and adjusting the work of the system: that is, recruiting personnel and the similar stuff. For example, it was necessary to somehow find medicines, to make this entire system from scratch. And I hired one person. One beautiful, brave, brave person. Ihor Kravchenko is a man who became a true friend to me, and not only to me, because he was truly a good person. Well, he was…
Later, I refused to be the head of the medical service in order to have the opportunity to go to the front line. And Igor then went with me, but already in the role of my boss. That is, he became a manager. We had an extremely strong shelling, then one of the military medics had already died and Igor, together with his evacuation team, went to rescue a person directly from under the shelling. He died saving another person. All this time I was at a distance of 700 meters and heard everything on the walkie-talkie.
I was very hurt by the fact that he died. It hurts to understand that death has just found him near me. Near. Completely near me. This is a terrible and psychologically difficult event. And it was also scary when we left our positions and enemy artillery was firing at us.
The katsap tank (“katsap” is an unceremonious name for russians) drove up a kilometer away and began working on our positions. So our platoon received a concussion. We all hid then and miraculously no one had shrapnel wounds. But it was a very heavy shelling, the shells landed right next to the trenches: one and a half meters away. Large-caliber projectiles were fired, more precisely, they worked with 152 caliber. Everything was so close that you hear for two seconds how it flies and there’s an impression that the heart will stop from emotions and fear. It seems that it will stop from tension: this projectile will fly into you or it can pass by. This extremely fine line is really scary and I hope that people will know about it only from my story, and not from their own experience.
After that, our platoon was sent to the hospital, told to receive out-patient treatment for a concussion. In principle, we have normal conditions. Well, as much as possible. We live in the ground, in trenches.
Now in tents, but also in trenches, some of us have already pitched a tent there. Our food is not so bad. Of course, it’s stew, pasta, cereals, and sometimes we even fried meat. At least now. We don’t have a shower, but that’s clear why, so if there’s a lake nearby, it’s very cool. If not, then our maximum is wet wipes. Therefore, the issue of hygiene is usually difficult. You can also use a bottle of water, but it is better to save it, because you need to drink and cook food on something.
In general, everything on the front line begins to be perceived differently. Every day you and your comrades are on the front line in the trenches, dugouts, at checkpoints. Artillery shelling almost never stops, and you freeze, as if all your organs are contracting from anticipation and fear, and you think that the next arrival is yours. And it already goes like a thumb: you fall to the ground, open your mouth, tightly press your hands to your ears. And you just wait a couple of seconds until the heart “jumps out” of your chest. God forbid that a projectile or a bullet injures a comrade… Then every minute is important to stabilize and deliver the wounded to the hospital.
For this, we desperately needed an evacuation vehicle. We didn’t have it in our platoon, and that’s why I decided to organize a collection of money. To be honest, I did not expect such a reaction from people, large-scale sharing. At that time, I thought that if we collected at least a hundred thousand, it would be extremely cool, because we would be able to buy at least some kind of transport.
Yes, maybe it would be something of poor quality, but it would be. Now the collection is finished within minutes, people are saying that now we can not only buy a NORMAL car, but also provide the military with all the necessary things. For example, our guys do not have thermal imagers, and without them it is very difficult and scary at night on the front line. Also, we can purchase various important things that are needed for the unit, but unfortunately, we were not provided with this. That is exactly why the collection was opened, to bring benefit to the unit.
But I am happy that now we will be able to purchase an evacuation car to further defend the state and bring victory closer. Because after the war, I really want to go to the Carpathians, visit Lviv and go to my parents in Zaporizhzhia.
I will definitely write a book about the war and complete the one that was not completed due to the invasion. Then I will publish and launch into the world. My husband and I decided to get married after the war. By the way, he is always here with me.
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: Kateryna Doroshenko
“In order to survive, we melted the snow and drained the water from the batteries in the apartment.” The story of a family from Kharkiv that was living in a bomb shelter under constant shelling, without water and food