The first time I cried was when I smelled bread. It was the fourth day of the war and they brought bread next to our house. We were standing and waiting in a long line, when I finally took the bread in my hands, something broke inside me. And then for the next few days I practically did not stop crying – says Ksenia Domaszenko, an inhabitant of Chernihiv, who told how she and her daughter survived the difficult time of constant bombardment. Interview by Arleta Zalewska from the series “Ukraine fights – civilians”.
“Ukraine fights – civilians” is a series of conversations between Arleta Zalewska and Ukrainians who witnessed the Russian invasion. The main character of the next edition is Ksenia Domaszenko from Chernihiv.
During the first weeks of the war, Arleta Zalewska was in contact with Ksenia through a mutual friend, the Ukrainian journalist Vitaly. For a long time, the city had no electricity, no telephone, no internet, no water, no gas.
Ksenia made this recording and sent it on March 17, the day after the Russians killed people standing in the line for bread in her city.
– Today there was also a crowd in the city center and they were also shot at. They are dead – said Ksenia, sitting in her apartment. She came here only during the day, at night she went down to the basement because, as she said, in her own apartment, she did not feel safe. – It’s quiet now, but today, while I was standing in line to the store, a plane flew over our heads. It was terrifying – she said on March 17.
Ukrainians liberated the city in early April. Now it’s rebuilding. Shops, restaurants and cinemas open. The bodies of residents are still found under the rubble of bombed houses. Residents are trying to get back to normal life. They are trying to get back to work, although most people, like Ksenia, had to look for a new job. The company where she worked and dealt in logistics was completely bombed.
Ksenia tells what a return to life looks like. About how her daughter is feeling and that they can walk around their city again. Nona is 10 years old, today she studies remotely. In the city, most of the schools were completely destroyed. There was a shelter in her school where local residents used to come. Fortunately, the school building has survived. – One day, the headmistress even invited the children to school for full-time classes! Few students came, but those who did were very happy. Ksenia tells that in the event of a bomb alarm, they even had a practiced evacuation to the shelter. “But it still turned out to be too dangerous.” And we went back to distance learning. Now there is electricity and internet in the city, so learning is possible. And after school, the children play together in the yard – she adds.
– My daughter understands that there is a war. I think she is taking it well for now. We try to walk a lot. She spends a lot of time with children from the neighborhood. We watch cartoons. I try to infect her with my optimism. Smile a lot. And cry a lot less. At least I try not to cry in front of her – says Ksenia.
Main photo source: TVN24