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Good afternoon if it is so! My name is V and it’s already been 32 days since I left my beloved husband, most of my family and the apartment for which I had been putting off for many years, denying myself everything – in a word, everything that I loved and worked for. And all through one powerful, terrible, all-encompassing word, which, as like a wind that sweeps everything in its path, devalues all assets – WAR! It has been going on for so many days and is still impossible to comprehend all this horror in one’s mind or consciousness. It is still unbelievable!

My native Kharkiv, the city of my birth, the formation as a person, student years, work, all life events, are swept off the face of the earth and turned into ruins. Everything that was so dear – now touched by the hand of the Kremlin, denigrated, and destroyed. The mind refuses to believe it, it seeks to preserve it and restore everything. And will it be so? And when?

Feb 24th will be remembered forever: It was not 5 am and my husband and I were awakened by a phone call from a friend who said only one word “HURRY UP!” I realized that the war had begun as when I went out on our balcony, I heard guns and the windows were shaking. We packed out things quietly so as not to wake the baby and thought about what to do next. We decided to move in with our mother in a neighboring area as our residence was near an airport.

There we stayed for two long weeks – endless days, sitting in the basement. We put a small light and as small stove so that we could at least warm food for our child. We did not dare go outside. We ate biscuits and sausages. The stench from the feces over the years, the long dead, and bloated cats next to my child – this will never be forgotten, just as the little hole in the basement wall through which we could see but a little of the outside world.

This all became too much as we could not sleep or eat, and we were afraid. Since the basement only saved us from GRADS and the fighters had now begun to fly, we decided to return to the apartment. Every time one flew in the vicinity, we could hear the low rumble, the trembling of the walls and my heart would cry out “no, not my house, at least not my house!” The thought of having to leave my husband and go who knows where, simply brought me to tears and hysteria. I endured all these things and hoped against hope that this would all passes. However, one day after a conversation with my husband, we decided that our child was the most important and we could not deprive him of a future.
I left with my 11-month-old daughter and my mother to the west of my country. We do not intend to leave Ukraine. To be honest, if it wasn’t for the infant, I would never have left my home. My husband works on the…….and has a draft reservation. He must continue to keep the functioning of our transport system. The scene of farewell with my husband is often a dream in my dreams. I am afraid, God forbid, that I will never see him again.

We are standing in a cramped crowd on the first platform on the Kharkiv station, among Hindus and Arabs and women with dogs and cats. There are a few people with wheelchairs. Everyone is waiting for a train but know one told us where it was heading. We almost got swept up under the wheels of the train. The military helped us get into the train with the child. It was like a movie scene from the Titanic. Many people remained in Kharkiv under shelling on the platform. The guards even had to shoot into the air so that the people would not crush each other. There were 20 of us in the carriage squished in on the shelves, the floor and corridors. We spent one and half days getting to Muckachevo. The children were screaming, they were wet and covered in rashes and barely slept. I breastfed in front of all the people. I didn’t care who saw me. I lay in the dark on the floor barely able to breath.
When we disembarked in Mukachevo, we were surprised that life goes on in Western Ukraine – calmly but cautiously. There were cafes and shops and pharmacies. There was fear in our eyes that does not go away, and you can immediately spot the persons who left the war zone. It is not the clothing or the language, but it is a look of pain, horror, confusion and sometimes anger in their faces.

Now the three of us live in a room of a friend. We have mattresses and she does not take any money from us. Actually, we have no money. I’m on maternity leave. We live on my mother’s pension and humanitarian aid (thank you good people). There is another family in the next room. These are also our friends from Kharkiv with a one-year-old child.

Here too, it is not entirely calm as air raids sound daily and sometimes there are explosions. But after what we have been through, it’s not that scary. Unfortunately, we have become used to it.
I really want to go home, to my husband, to the apartment where we managed to live for only 3 months.

I apologize for writing so much but emotions run high.

Thank you for doing such a great job is helping us.