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  • Українці розповідають про пережите під час війни з росією

    Ukrainians talk about their experiences during the war with russia

    Valentyna Artiuh from Chernihiv

    Valentyna Artiuh “If we were in the house, no one would be left alive”

    Life under fire

    АвторAuthor: Inna Molchanova | Translation: Anna Shliakhova

    9 July 2022

    Valentyna Artiuh, a senior lady from Chernihiv, told us about the horror of destroying her house by shelling. A few minutes separated her and her son from the disaster, still this explosion took the lives of almost 50 other people. After this apocalypse the family returned to their flat where the wind blew. The yard of the house became a total ruin, it couldn’t be rebuilt.

    We live together with my son Andriy, he’s not married. We have never fled the city. He is 43, so he left as he thought he would be mobilized. I also left. 13 people left in our part of the house, so we held together through it.

    I’m already retired, but still work for “Techcom Service” specializing in maintenance of residential buildings.On the 3rd of March rushists conducted an air strike on our Chernihiv. We were already living in cellars. About 1.30 p.m. we went outside to eat and immediately saw a plane that flew low over the house, made a circle, and came back to strike. It dropped a bomb on our house. By then I made it to the cellar. The aircraft hit our house on Chornovola street, 15 and 2 houses nearby on Boguna street, 44 and 48. They bombed all the neighborhood. There were 6 strong explosions. The casualties were huge.

    47 of our neighbors died. There was a pharmacy on the first floor; people who came there also died.

    Finally, we counted 56 dead including people who came to the pharmacy. There were no children, mainly adults and senior people. People with kids had fled before.

    The house after the airstrike

    Valentyna Artiuh’s house destroyed during the airstrike

    Everyone who was hiding in a toilet or a corridor died. We even fell into the cellar due to the power of the explosion. People cried and didn’t know what to do as the earth trembled, everything swayed and shook. When we came out of the cellar, we saw that the first and the second entrance collapsed. Our nine-storey building was pierced through in the middle. Falling debris was also dangerous.

    It could be everyone

    The power of the explosion was so strong that the debris broke through the wall of our apartment and flew inside a room. It was a half meter long. I think, if we were at home at the moment, we wouldn’t survive. Then, rescuers came. They got and led out people. Under the debris almost no people were alive. The worst thing was to realize how many people died.

    It was so scary to see the dead were getting out. Immediately a thought flashed into my mind: “It could be everyone”.

    The house was damaged by bomb fragments

    The house in Chernihiv sustained damage from bomb fragments

    During that bombing I was so feared that I hit my head. I can’t remember how it happened. My face and head swallowed; I was afraid it would be a serious injury. It was not. Then we moved into another cellar.

    We were fed by those who cared

    In Total, we lived for 50 days in cellars. There were no shops, nothing. For a long time, there were no utilities at all. The military helped us. Our neighbor was in the army, though he always brought us some bread. We had some homemade canned food and lard. As my son works as a food truck driver, his boss gave us a box of cans. In the cellar we all ate them. All shared what they had. We ate what we could, because we had no stove. Then I found volunteers and told them about our situation. They started to bring us soup and other food.

    Almost nothing had survived in our apartment

    Only walls remained from what was our house, but only partly. We live there now without any rooms, doors, and windows. We boarded up the windows with carpets.

    We already have utilities. The next day we cleaned our apartment because we had to board up windows with something.

    At least we have a place to come back; our neighbors still live in cellars due to their part of the house being completely destroyed.

    Windows boarded up with materials at hand

    Windows of a multi-storey building on Chornovola street in Chernihiv were boarded up with materials at hand

    There was no door from the street either. As we live on the first floor, my son and I chipped in to buy and install an exterior door. Even though it became a little easier.

    But still, we don’t have windows and can do nothing. Nothing survived inside. We have to buy everything again. Cupboards, other furniture, tables and cookware — we need everything from scratch. Only wall cabinets that are side-mounted remained in the kitchen. Though they survived.

    All survivors need help

    But, no committee has come yet to draw up an act of survey for the compensation of damages caused by war. People who live in a cellar receive no monetary compensation. We turned to representatives of the city community, but they replied that they have no money.

    Valentyna Artiuh on the debris of a multi-storey building

    Valentyna Artiuh amid the debris of a multi-storey building

    Slowly, people are coming back to Chernihiv, although there are still explosions somewhere on the border. We’re rebuilding our city, but are still waiting for help from the government. It’s impossible to restore everything on our own. We’re not starving as we have facilities to cook. We’ve received humanitarian aid, it included cereals and oil.

    Read also: “They took away our phones and shut us in the basement. They wouldn’t even let us go to the bathroom”

    I clean the house on Samosova street, 9. I work in order to have something to do. In general, it helps to distract me a little bit. At least, I can talk with people there. After work I can do something at home.

    We have already endured the worst, everything else can be survived. If only they leave us alone. We are ready to endure everything for the sake of our victory.

    Let our boys defend us, God bless them, because it’s so hard to live in 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: Inna Molchanova | Translation: Anna Shliakhova

    Life under fire

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