Kramatorsk, Donetsk region
How did you experience war in 2014? What do you remember from that? How old were you? How did 2014-2015 go for you? Please tell this story in detail.
I saw with my own eyes the beginning of the war in the spring of 2014. It happened on the day when terrorists and collaborators captured the police station we had at that time and the executive committee building. I saw with my own eyes how a crowd of people tried to break through to the excomm past the police border blocking the entrance to the building. Then, in order not to expose myself to danger, I went home. I was 14 years old. The very next day, the first barricades appeared, terrorists began to "set up positions" around the city hall. My friend told me that the police building was captured by shooting, and brought a cartridge from a machine gun. From that day, the peace completely vanished.There were more bandits in the city hall building, people walking around the city with St. George ribbons, and my parents told me to go to school by a different road, avoiding the center. From time to time shots were heard from the aerodrome, planes and helicopters flew over the city. Once, leaflets with a note about a terrorist threat were dropped from one of such helicopters. Several times we were dismissed from classes because of gunshots. And one day, one of the students received a message from his parents that an assault would soon begin. Sometimes my parents didn't let me go to school at all. I remember almost nothing about the so-called "referendum" except that it was clear to everyone that it was an illegal act, it had no legal force. Once I saw an OSCE car near the square. Someone spread a rumor then that terrorists had captured the mission staff, but that, in my opinion, was fiction. On the last school day, I found out that our DPA exam was canceled, and a few days later we went to my grandmother. For almost 3 months we lived only waiting for news on the city’s liberation. As soon as this happened, we returned back and tried to live as before. This was the case until February 2015, when the russians launched a massive shelling of our city. Then my parents decided to move temporarily again. For six months, we went to a safer place - to relatives in central Ukraine, after which we returned back home.
"Where were you these 8 years?". How has this time passed for you, what changed
in your life since the events of 2014? What has influenced you the most during this time? Please write in detail.
During those eight years, I left my hometown only twice, without losing hope that everything will be fine - the occupied regions will be liberated and Donbas will flourish again. Unfortunately, not everyone was as optimistic as I was. Many people were skeptical about the future in our region and thought about how to change their place of residence to a more peaceful and safe one. During this time, I finished school, passed the exams and entered a mechanical engineering academy. In the third year there, I became interested in drawing, and later photography, little by little I started volunteering. Later during my master's studies, I joined a cultural and historical public organization. The events of those years have changed two main things in my outlook on life. The first is that you never know when someone will want to interrupt the flow of your peaceful life, entering your home with "grad" and artillery. Second, this may very well be someone who you thought was your friendly neighbor. Each of the tragic events of these eight years affected me in one way or another. The events of the first years of the war made me realize that no matter how much you might want to stay at home, in your hometown, you would still have to leave your native soil for your safety, and, as a rule, for an uncertain period of time. Since then, I've learned not to be attached to material things, and to value relationships, spiritual growth, and good memories more. It is these things that now hold the greatest value for me, because, unlike material things, they cannot be destroyed by any shelling.
What was February 24, 2022 for you like? Did you believe that a full-scale offensive would begin? Where are you now? What do you do? What do you think about your future now?
Like most Ukrainians, I woke up early in the morning to the sounds of explosions. I was one of those people who did not believe in the beginning of a full-scale invasion, and therefore, when my sleep was interrupted by the roar of missiles, I convinced myself for the first seconds that it was another one-time shelling or just a training exercise. Unfortunately, after picking up the phone and reading the first news, it turned out that the war had really begun in full scale. Most of my friends and acquaintances in common chats were already discussing the events of the previous minutes, and I simply could not believe that it was all real and I was awake. Then there was all the packing, calls, searching for transport. It was only after lunch that it got a little calmer, the children were already running outside, and anxiety started leaving the soul a bit. After 2 days, I went to Lviv, where I spent about a month. I mostly tried to find some sort of job there and volunteered from time to time. In one of the centers, I helped weave camouflage nets for the military. Later, due to a number of reasons, I moved to Ivano-Frankivsk, where I am now with my family. In my free time, luckily I don't have that much of it, I do my usual creative work - I take photos. Probably, this is the only activity that helps me to distract myself a little from burdensome thoughts. I, like the majority of our citizens, believe in our victory, I believe that I will be able to return home - to the free Ukrainian Donbas.