People from all of Ukraine have already been dealing with an electricity shutdown for a few weeks. Still, we are able to live, work and study even despite these inconveniences. However, there are people in some regions who are already used to such a life, namely those who live in previously occupied territories.
One of FRI members, Yevhen Poliakov, shared with us his experience volunteering in Kyiv oblast and helping the local people return to the normal way of living.
He found an opportunity for such a volunteering project in FRI Kyiv chat. After considering it for a while, he decided to give it a try. When the other participants and him arrived at the subway station, they were picked up by a chauffeur who showed them bombed places. They gave them gloves, some safety instructions, and specific tasks to do. “We were restoring wreckage, picking up destroyed things so that afterwards, craftsmen could do their work. I must say, mostly, we worked on houses that are still to be restored, like replacing the roof or taping up the windows. The house owners would even feed us”.
Apart from that, Yevhen and other activists could hear different stories of people who directly suffered because of war. One house owner from Bucha, whose home was partially damaged (a part of the roof and the wall), was cheerful and earnest and kept saying everything would be fine and restored. Russian soldiers had been driving along her street, two other tanks ventured forth, and another moved toward the neighbour’s porch zeroing in on somebody’s house. She remembers that some APCs were standing near the local store in front of her house, and Russians were emerging from there. She was looking out of the window (they couldn’t see her). There were 15 to 20 soldiers aiming their guns at her and shooting the house’s facade while she was trying to run away. She assumed that they strived to frighten locals in order to sit in their basements. The dividing line was close enough that the soil in the shelter could hop from the ground at times of bombarding. One night they thought the neighbour’s house was shelled, yet it turned out it was hers.
Moreover, they couldn’t light the fire because it would draw Russia’s attention. But when there was a house fire not far away, it was possible, and people could make some hot tea because nights in the basement were chilly. The residents of Bucha are so happy that everything blooms and it isn’t as grey as it was.
The next destination was Vorzel. Yevhen helped to restore the house, which had been shelled with the projectile, the latter having detonated 3-4 days before the de-occupation took place and tore down half of the roof and made some tiny holes in the concrete ceiling on the second floor. The owner claimed that they were the lucky ones. When the residents of the house were back and saw their dog lying on the ground, they thought its paws were injured but turned out it was a shock that made it like that.
Eventually, the volunteers went to Irpin. There was the house that burned down to the ground, with a young family living there and the parents in the house next to theirs. “We found a basement underneath the building. They said that they would not be alive if it weren’t for the basement. Russians fired their car, standing in the yard and living in the house when there was no one at home. Along with other volunteers, Yevhen understands that restoring the houses will not be easy. Still, everything will eventually be as it should be – peaceful Ukraine, beautiful renewed homes with brave souls in them!