The broken lives of Ukraine

A month ago the cities of kyiv, Kharkov, Dnipro, Mariupol, Odessa or Sumi were wasting life. The days passed as usual. There was some concern about the conflict with Russia and many had started survival courses, but virtually no one predicted then what was to comeHe didn’t even think it was possible. The feeling was simply that the unimaginable was not going to happen. But in the early hours of that February 24, the anti-aircraft sirens, now impossible to forget, gave way to the nightmare. That of an invasion that began to leave broken lives.

Artur Bakhashaliev, a computer scientist in his mid-thirties, remembers him well. That day he was with his friend Kiril at the Bukovel ski resort when, upon waking up, he read the news on social networks. Bakhashaliev says that from that moment, as happened to millions of Ukrainians, his phone began to receive thousands of messages and calls from friends and family. The most worrying information he knew almost immediately. Gostomel airport, near his home on the outskirts of kyiv, had become one of the places where the battle had first begun to take shape. “Kiril and I were there, and we looked at each other disoriented, not knowing what to do or where to go & rdquor ;, she recalls.

That feeling of paralysis was also experienced by Ekaterina Ushanova, who, upon hearing the warning signal, the first thing she did was go downstairs to buy water. “I don’t know why I did it, maybe because the tap water is of poor quality in kyiv. When I got to the supermarket there were so many people that I had to wait half an hour before I could get in & rdquor ;, says this 31-year-old. “I had a hard time accepting what was happeningI had already had panic attacks and anxiety problems and was trying to recover & rdquor ;, adds Ushanova who is temporarily in Lviv today, a city where she arrived after convincing herself that the capital of Ukraine, where she took refuge eight years ago when Russia annexed her native Crimea, it is no longer a safe place for her.

The decision to leave the city

The man who saved Ushanova for the second time is called Myhailo Mysak, he is 56 years old, and he is a very religious and somewhat nationalistic guy. That fateful day, Mysak received instructions on what he had to do by phone from his wife Vira de him, who was on a pleasure trip to Cyprus with their son. He told me: learn english and house as many refugees as you can”, says Mysak, And that is what he has done since then, as they also ask him in his parish. “People have come here from Kharkov, kyiv, Irpin… Some have already left, others are still here & rdquor ;, says Mysak, owner of a food store.

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“It was a day that changed everything,” says Kateryna Marynets, a housewife from Liman, in the eastern Donetsk region. “I woke up very scared when I heard the shelling, but also determined to stay with my husband, who is a doctor & rdquor ;, she explains. After a conversation with a close friend, a resident of Kharkov, she decided to leave the city. “He told me: ‘go now, before the russians arrive’. That’s how I made the decision & rdquor ;, she remembers. “I packed my bags even before my son woke up & rdquor ;, she says as she fixes her gaze on a boy of about eight who is sitting in a shelter for families. “Since that day he has not gone to school & rdquor ;, she adds.

The news of the beginning of the invasion also traumatized many Ukrainians who were outside the country, miles away from their relatives residing in places where Russian artillery raged from the beginning, such as martyred and besieged Mariúpol, in the south of the country. “The worst thing was knowing that my two young children were there, in Mariúpol, alone with my first wife, and I was far away, without the possibility of returning quickly to help and save them & rdquor ;, explains a man, who, out of fear, prefers to remain anonymous when we find him on a desperate journey to this city in eastern Ukraine. “Since then I don’t know anything about them anymore, some have told me that they could be in (the city of) Zaporizhia or in Dnipro. I’ll look for them everywhere, I’ll bring money and I’ll try until I can’t anymore & rdquor ;.

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