АвторAuthor: Lidia Bilyk | Translation: Anna Shliakhova
5 June 2022
“God takes money, not our lives and it calms me down,” says Vira. She, her kids and husband lived in the village Bilgorodka in Kyiv region. Three days before the war began they had finished the repair of their apartment in Irpin they bought a few years ago. The young family never got to move into their new apartment because of the war. Irpin was occupied by russian troops, later their neighbors told them that it is ruined. Now Vira is actively engages in volunteering, works with Ukrainians as a military psychologist, and also helps the Ukrainian army to find what they need.
The 24th of February began not so awfully. The evening before we visited our friends and stayed till late. So I slept soundly and didn’t hear any explosions. I realized that the war began only at 9 a.m. I woke up, took my phone and saw numerous messages with the words: “How are you? What is going there?” I didn’t realize what happened and why so many people were interested right in the morning how I am. I found out that the war began only when I saw the news.
We decided to leave at the third day of the war. That day a big explosion happened on Chayka (Kyiv suburb) in 1,5 km from us, my daughter was scared and started to cry. My husband said that we should go to his parents in the West of Ukraine. First we went to Zakarpattya. The way there lasted for 26 hours ― we took a detour because it was dangerous to go by the main road due to constant shooting. Later, out of personal reasons we went to Lviv to our friends.
At the beginning when we just came to Lviv I even cleaned offices and handed out flyers as we gave all the money we had for the repair of apartments in three days before the war. I had to finish my projects and got payment on the 29th of February, so we even bought more things for our apartment. So we had only 6000 grivnas, but everything had to be alright, except the war began.
“My neighbor told me that we have no apartments more. She said, “Don’t worry, but your house was stuck by a bomb”. She sent us photos and I saw that there was no our apartment, there was just a hole in the place it was”.
Now I work in an IT-company as a recruiter. I found this job thanks to the war, because all my former clients closed their projects where I worked as a freelancer. I wrote a post on Facebook that I needed a job. I had more than 4k reposts and thus I found the job.
When we were in Lviv I tried to combine my work and volunteering helping displaced persons. I graduated in military psychology. I had the first degree in pedagogics, and then in psychology, so now I help those who need it. I don’t really consult people, but direct them to professionals. It depends on the problem. It can be post-traumatic stress disorder or panic attacks. People I talk to have different experiences. For example, one girl from Kharkiv was after being raped. No one believed her, because there was no russian troops in Kharkiv, but she was raped by russian soldier from a subversive group who was in the russian uniform.
She lived with her disable mother. One day she went to get humanitarian aid and when she came back home there were three men inside. Two of them took food, jewelry, money and everything they could. One of them left and raped her for a week in front of her mother. Later he asked her why she hadn’t fled the city. She answered that she couldn’t leave her mother, and he said, “Then I stop your suffering” and shot her mother. Then he told her to flee the city and he will find her later and marry her because he loves her.
For the moment being my children, my husband and I are in Italy. My daughter was very afraid of air-raid alerts, so we decided to leave Ukraine. My husband is a priest, he’s exempted from the army. Church authority directed him to serve in Italy.
Now my main focus is helping Ukrainian, especially those who are in Mariupol, and the other one is searching for essentials for our army. Recently a girl I helped as a psychologist, wrote to me that her mother didn’t survive. She is from Mariupol. I was overwhelmed and started looking for drivers who would agree to take people out of there. We raised funds for fuel and found 2 people who were ready to go.
These 2 cars went together from Zaporizhzhya, but only one of them could pass the checkpoint. People who want to evacuate had to go by foot 20-25 km out of Mariupol. We explain to them that we cannot go to the city due to constant shelling and shooting the cars. The mobile connection in Mariupol is awful, usually people can call only from the roof of high buildings with risk for their lives, because all the city is seen by occupants. Now we’re looking for mini buses that can take more people, but not buses with C driving categories, we need at least big cars.
“Every day I cry on my husband’s shoulder. I tell him I want home because I think I could do more at home. He answers: “Where would you find thermal imagers at home?” And he’s right”.
We buy thermal imagers by hook and by crook because it requires a special permit. Also I launched my channel on Telegram “The volunteer’s stories of unconquered people” and tell their stories. Not always I have enough time to read all the messages on Facebook. Many people who have read these stories ask me how they can help. Someone even asks how they can adopt children. I must answer everyone and explain that it’s impossible now. Journalists from the BBC wrote to me also, they asked for contacts of my volunteers, but I can not share them, because all my stories were posted with permission and often with changed names.
I believe in our victory, if I didn’t believe, I would do nothing for Ukraine.
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: Lidia Bilyk | Translation: Anna Shliakhova