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War Stories from Andrey-Ludmila Kozubenko

Story 1: The Tragedy of War and Human Kindness Without Limits.

When I read this story from Andrey-Ludmila Kozubenko (https://www.facebook.com/mila.sinkevich) I wanted to connect and thank them for sharing and their kindness. I do not want to miss future stories. I ask if I can share and translate as the world needs to know what happens under russian occupation and why Ukraine and the world need a victory. Unfortunately, no peace talks can stop the war that russia forced the people of Ukraine to fight.

Here is the story:

As always, when you least expect it, because you are about to go to sleep, the phone rings.

– we need to come to your place urgently, there are many children and they are very hungry, is it possible? – says the familiar voice of the volunteer who takes people out of the hottest places. -Of course you can. We are always ready to accept and provide shelter.

I turn on the oven, throw in 4 kg of chicken legs (my husband knew that a lot was needed), and put a large saucepan of soup and porridge. I know the appetite of those who have been sitting in cellars for months.

Within an hour, there is a knock on the door, and many children enter. I look for mothers with my eyes, but I see only small, thin, tortured and exhausted children. And two of them have children in their arms. I don’t want to believe these skinny girls are grown mothers because it seems like just bones and skin. And a wide smile. There are many of them: eight adults and a whole bunch of kids.

We settle in rooms and corridors.

While the children are running to the room, bathroom, and toilet, we pour food.

It is probably impossible to describe every woman’s story, so I will write about one for now.

Mother, with her 6 children and 2 grandparents, one of whom is very old.

– it is most difficult for those who do not have a car. Because there is no way to leave. And they are forced to wait for evacuation and queue for an opportunity. And while they wait, these bastards (russian occupiers) will think of other ways to make fun of us. And their imagination is sick. The horror of what they do cannot be described in words. Grandfather speaks, and his voice trembles. And hands are shaking and tears in the eyes.

– occupiers left his grandchildren as orphans. How much grief they have caused. Thousands of families were broken, tens of thousands of children are forced to cry because of them….

A thin woman hugs a small child to her chest. Three are her children, and three nephews, says the woman. My sister and her husband died under the rubble of the house. The children were visiting with her, so they stayed alive. One was badly beaten with bruises, scratches, a broken nose – he helped pull his parents out from under the rubble. They could not pull it out in time, but the remains of the house still managed to fall on the boy.

Three more small ones. Two are also well beaten with bruises. One with a bandage on his head – fleeing from shelling, they dragged him to the crypt.

All of them saw death, grief, and abuse because they were in the occupation. And hunger. And that’s why they just pounce on the food before they have time to sit at the table. They eat quickly and everything they see.

– Meat, meat, I wanted it so much… the little one pushes the plate towards him and starts crying – and occupiers took everything from our house. And our chicken and potatoes from the basement. And we fed these chickens, we helped my mother dig potatoes, and they came and took them away. And we had nothing to eat… Now the little one is crying, me, my friend who helps me and everyone around are crying too.

 Meanwhile, my husband helps volunteers with cars, gas and finding places to transport new families. And when this family finishes eating, new people will come down and I will listen to a new story and cry again. Because it hurts for them, because I want the war to finally stop, so that the children do not see abuse and hunger, so that they do not leave their parents under the rubble of the house and do not fall into a pit.

I want this to end. russia came to an end and peace reigned.

I don’t reread the story, I don’t correct mistakes, I don’t edit.

I quickly wrote and shared. Therefore, I myself know what mistakes are, but the story is not about them, but about the pain of each individual person and Ukraine in general. I just want the whole world to know the story of these people. So that those who pretend that it does not concern them try to imagine their children in their place. So that those who think that the russians are overall “good people” remember that silence is a sign of agreement with the situation….

Story 2: The importance of confidentiality and respect for privacy for survivors who left occupied territories in Ukraine.

This story is shared by Andrey-Ludmila Kozubenko (https://www.facebook.com/mila.sinkevich)

Once a woman asked me why I didn’t indicate names, cities or put a photo of a person from the story. And I decided to write this story.

That was the first story I shared. The woman herself offered to write so that people would know about her.

They escaped from the occupation. It was a miracle. Before that, the family lived for about two weeks under the “surveillance” of the “rashists” who occupied their home. The family wanted to run away from the house, but they were not allowed to leave. They were left as servants. The mother cooked food for russian occupiers, the eldest daughter was used to satisfy other desires. And she didn’t have a husband. So she had to live through 2 weeks of hell.

The woman wanted to poison them, but they called the children before dinner and made them taste the food.

The woman told how she was abused mentally and physically. The occupiers forced their children to undress, climb on a chair and read poems, they forced them to bow, wipe their feet with the younger daughter’s long hair, they slapped the girls and laughed telling them what they would do to them, they threw the russian flag over them and told them to imagine themselves as “superman” and run around the house. The stories of tortures were unlimited. But they managed to escape leaving everything behind.

I published the story, even took a photo. The eldest daughter was afraid, but the mother said the world should know.

And the next day, her neighbours called her and said occupiers read the story and wanted to find them, and they destroyed their house because of this story. Moreover, Occupiers told neighbours that once they found her, they would hang her for such insolence and shared many more threats.

I immediately deleted the story, and cleaned everything I could. For several days, I regretted what I had written. Although not many people viewed it, the feeling of guilt stayed with me for a long time.

Families were given asylum abroad. They are safe. And I decided never to indicate names, cities and photos. You never know who will read the stories, but you can recognize some families by them. Therefore, all my stories, although true, but unfortunately without names.

Still, there are people who write about the fact that almost the same situation happened to them, or as you described. And it’s scary. Because we understand that the imagination of these non-humans has no boundaries.

However, all will be Ukraine, and God is with us!

PS From Sasha: People of Ukraine who escape the occupation fear media interviews. Many will not share their stories as it is tough to rebuild trust in humanity when you experience inhumane treatment. In addition, many forcefully displaced Ukrainians might not be able to share their horrors, as they are afraid that their loved ones who stayed in Ukraine will be killed if occupiers know who shared the story.

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