Svitlana K lived a peaceful life with her husband, daughter and son in a village in the Z region. They worked on their own little farm that had 6 cows and 9 pigs. There were two stores in the village – the infrastructure was quite good. Before March 2022, there were more that 700 people living here.
But then, a merciless war changed everything in their lives. In the beginning of March 2022, Russian troops entered the village and established their headquarters near the K house. Chechen and Buryat soldiers of the Russian army were provocative and rude. Everyone was scared of them and they liked that this fear that they had instilled in the villagers. Knowing that the people feared them they were inspired to crimes and torturing.
These Russian occupiers would come to the K house whenever they wanted. Under the barrel of a machine gun, S and where daughter baked bread and cooked for them. Sometimes Russian soldiers came at nighttime. At times while eating their meal, they talked about their ‘feats/accomplishments’ and bragged about their technique. The Russians killed all 9 pigs that belonged to our family, tearing off the skin and throwing away the fat (they were Muslim) but they took the meat with them.
Often the K family had to sit in the basement because of the shelling. One day Svitlana’s husband told the Russians that there were many mines in the field, and it was dangerous for their cattle to walk there. But their answer was quite strange: “The war for you will finish on April 22 and everything will be fine!” Then they told the family that they wee going to kill them, because they knew a lot about their location. On April 22nd, the husband told the family to leave the basement. He didn’t believe that the Russians would shoot them but at that moment the Russian tank shot at their house. The pieces went through the husband’s body, part of the house and roof were destroyed as was the roof on the barn. Svitlana and her family escaped through the neighbor’s backyard. Then the house was shot at again. Next day Svitlana came back to the destroyed house, she let out the cattle on the field, took her children and began walking toward Z. On their way, Russians were shooting at them with mortars, but the mines flew over their heads and exploded, causing no harm to the family. The children remembered when the soldiers spoke about the mined places and this information helped them avoid death while walking through the mined fields.
In May, Svitlana and her son and daughter arrived in Lviv. They found temporary shelter. Her other daughter joined them along with her husband and two little ones. They too had escaped the bombing as they had lived near the frontline.
Now both families are looking for a place to live. For some reason they have to go through this ruined life and great loss. The nightmare of war and the treatment by the occupies has left a mark in the eyes and the behavior of these open peaceful people. It seems that inside they are still under occupation: the fear and deep pain are still evident in Svitlana’s face. She worries about her family. Other people buried her husband in the yard of her destroyed home. She also wants to take their dogs with her to a new place as along with the children, these pets walked with them through all the mined fields. This is all she has left – her children and the pets!