“On the 8th of March 2022, my neighbor called me and told me to rush back home. When I arrived, my house was gone. All that remained was a pile of bricks. It had been struck by an aerial bomb,” said 64-year-old Volodymyr from Ukraine.
Volodymyr met our team right at the gate and immediately drew our attention to the fence, which bore the brunt of the damage. It was covered in small holes from continuous shelling and shrapnel and stood as a testament to the violence that occurred. It’s scary to imagine what could have happened at that moment if there had been people near the fence. “This is our house,” continued Volodymyr. I suddenly got an eerie feeling, because all I saw was a building in shambles.
“We heard explosions since the early days of the conflict. Our daughter and grandchildren sought refuge with us. We were 7 in total, and hid in the basement. It was very cold there, so we covered ourselves in blankets but still, our three-year-old granddaughter fell ill. I couldn’t even leave the basement to make her hot tea,” Volodymyr’s 62-year-old wife, Tamara added.
For several days, the family hid from the shelling in the basement. However, they soon realized they couldn’t stay there much longer and gathered their things to move to a neighboring village. A week later, Volodymyr received the terrible news that his house had been destroyed by an aerial bomb.
“I had dedicated over 20 years of my life to building this house, investing my heart and soul into it,” Volodymyr said.
Volodymyr and Tamara invited us to enter their house. There was no roof, and only a few of the walls remained. In the corner of the kitchen, my attention was drawn to an icon – it’s amazing how it even survived the bombing and fire. Tamara noticed my interest and said: “Now, we dream of peace and health, and of having the strength to rebuild everything.”
We said our goodbyes and set out to meet another family that received support from Medair. They lived in the same town, so we soon found ourselves at Liudmyla’s apartment.
“I don’t even want to remember the events of last year. They evoke pure fear,” said 64-year-old Liudmyla.
She invited us to come into her living room, where her 40-year-old son Valerii was sitting on a chair by the window. He does not speak or walk because of complications during childbirth and relies heavily on outside help. We sat next to each other, while Liudmyla, with a trembling voice, began to tell her story.
“When my husband was alive, life was much easier. We took care of our son together. But my husband died 11 years ago from cancer,” Liudmyla said.
On the 24th of February 2022, like most people in Ukraine, Liudmyla heard explosions. For several days, she and her son stayed at home. But as the explosions grew louder, and with tanks lurking nearby, the situation grew increasingly frightening. Hiding in a shelter wasn’t an option for them, because Liudmyla simply wouldn’t have been able to carry her adult son there in her arms, so Liudmyla decided to flee to another village. “We sought refuge in an unfinished house. There was no flooring, and no furniture. Only a stove. We used it to keep warm and cook,” Liudmyla said. “We had a hard time finding medicine, which was a big concern since my son can’t go without it. He needs to take special sedatives every day, and they were almost impossible to find a year ago,” Liudmyla said.
“You know, no one came to help me and my son – and we really needed support. When I got the call from Medair, I felt like life was worth living again. They wanted to find out about our situation, our needs and how they could support us. I was so grateful that someone took the time to care for me and my sick son,” Liudmyla said.
More than 1’000 affected people were assisted with cash in Sumy region, Ukraine.
Medair services in Ukraine are funded by PMU, CDB, CEDAR, Mustard Seed, Tearfund NZ.
This content was produced with resources gathered by Medair field and headquarters staff. The views expressed here are those solely of Medair and should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of any other organization.
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