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Bohdana, translator of "Humans of Kyiv"

Bohdana was born and raised in Kyiv and remained in the city after February 24. Now she is part of the “Humans of Kyiv” team as an interviewer and translator.


I am studying to be a translator at a Linguistic university. I was a full-time student and then transferred to part-time study. Only in the 3rd year did I really understand that I like to translate, and that's something I would like to do. It's so interesting - looking, finding a match, doing a quality translation, and adapting it.

In November 2021, I started translating for "Humans of Kyiv." I remember it was three at night, I was preparing for a class, and I saw that the project was looking for translators. I barely restrained myself from writing to the project team until the morning. I thought that maybe they wouldn't take me because I still study, but I really wanted to try and start translating stories from time to time.

In the first days of the invasion, I didn't stop working. I mean, I had a job, but the rest of the time - it's 24/7 TV on, reading every news in the telegram.

I wanted to distract myself, so I thought about what I could do. Well, I know the language. There are new stories in "Humans of Kyiv," so maybe they need my help in translation again? So I joined the main team of the project.

I am glad that I have a mission, that we keep the information front. When I started interviewing the heroes in March in Kyiv, these were moments of everyday life: you get up, wash your head, do make-up, get dressed, go to the hero to talk - and that brings life to you again. These people, even if you just read the stories, are very inspiring. When you read, communicate with volunteers, or listen to or see their activities, you understand that everything is fantastic in Ukraine.

The first weeks after the 24th

On the night of the 24th, I worked. A friend wrote to me in a capslock if I was in Kyiv and asked what kind of explosions we had. And I was in the headphones. When I took them off - I heard the explosions. My sister, her child, and I were at home alone. I didn't know what to do - whether to pack a suitcase or wake her up. Sometime around 6 or 7 a.m. I told her what was going on, and we packed up. Her husband works in the police; he said to wait until the evening. I live in Troieschyna, and you could hear explosions from Brovary and Boryspil. Several times the windows actually shook. In the afternoon my mother came, I slept a little, then together we went to relatives in Pyrogovo.

About once every two weeks, we went home to pick up some things. One time we arrived, I asked to stay (it was mid-March). I was there for four days. Then Klitschko said that if you return to Kyiv, there is a very high probability that you will die. I thought: great, thank you. Me, the dog, and the 8th floor.

The first days of the invasion were scary, and I felt hysterical: one moment you feel emotionally fine, and the next moment you are overwhelmed by the emotions - you lay crying. Then there was a limit. Irpin and Bucha have just were deliberated. I looked at these photos and understood that it was awful, but I didn't have any emotions. There is just the understanding that it's terrible and wrong, but there are no more emotions to cry or get angry. And it was scary not to feel anything. However, there was one thing that moved me. I'm not an emotional person at all, few things bring me to tears, and here I just cried when my sister and her daughter and I went for a walk, and the child began to sing: "In the meadow, there is a red kalyna…". And she is only three years old, she has not sung such songs yet.

Summer house in the occupied village

My family has a summer house in the village of Peremoha, Baryshiv district. Once it was the village of Yadlivka, the Germans came, burned it, and when it was later rebuilt, it was called Peremoga (Victory). My grandmother and father are from this village. They were born and lived there. I've spent all my childhood there and had many friends. We even planned to go there on the 24th, but, fortunately, we decided not to. Somewhere on February 28, Russian soldiers came there. They had to go to Brovary, to Kyiv, but they blew up the bridge, so they settled there. Ten of them lived in our house.

They dug almost the entire yard of trenches, cut out part of the fence below to equip the firing point, and left the dump. I was shocked that they littered the place they slept. I don't understand how it is possible - to peel potatoes, eat, smoke, and go to bed at the same place.

You go into the house, and you see that it's clean here, everything is cool, objectively you need to be somewhere, and there is a whole yard, you can sit outside and clean that potatoes - but no, you need to go where you sleep. It was wild.

They didn't steal anything but took to different places. They left notes that they are not like the media write about them, and pointed out where the mattress and heater were. It is good that my father was not there at that time. He used to work in the traffic police. They found a bunch of his old uniforms in the house and asked the neighbors who lived there, so nobody knows what would happen to him. He worked at that time, drove some Argentines to Lviv, he managed to take them away, and did not return because the Russians settled there.

Switching to Ukrainian

On February 24, I completely switched to Ukrainian. I wanted to do it before, but I remember very clearly that before the full-scale invasion, there was a barrier. I was worried about how people would react because I have a Russian-speaking environment. After the invasion, I thought - that's it, and began to speak Ukrainian with everyone. I stopped to be afraid of how other people react. It didn't matter. I just want to distance myself from everything Russian. Probably, this is what we have to come to when there is no reaction to Ukrainian in Ukraine. I would like not to understand Russian at all; I am inspired by people who do not really understand it. I have a girl at work who doesn't know what "Fevral" (February in Russian - ed) is, and it's cool. Russian is a foreign language. If I have children, I want them not to understand Russian at all.

My friends also switched to Ukrainian; some of my friends are still Russian-speaking, but they answer me in Ukrainian, which is so cool. We just sat and talked and drank tea, they spoke Russian, and by the end of the evening, everyone was already speaking Ukrainian. I answered in Ukrainian, and they all gradually switched.

I reread a lot of Russian classics, and I liked it. Shortly before the war, I bought some books with eSupport funds, and I have there Bulgakov, Dostoievsky, and a collection of Tsvetaeva. Now I don't even touch them. I think they can be set on fire in the summer house.

Even before the war, everyone told me to go somewhere to study, and I never wanted to. I always wanted to be in Kyiv. It's so beautiful here and cool, great people. I was born here.

I walk a lot now in Kyiv and find more new places. I think you can succeed here if you find your business, so it's weird for me to think about going somewhere else. Why do I have to think about something better? Everything will be fine at home too.

For me, the first association with the word ''Ukraine'' is a home and the Cherkasy region, the village of Bilogorodka, and my mother told me a lot about it. My grandfather is from there. It is good that he has not lived to this day. During the first months of the invasion, we all slept in the basement of a house in Pyrogovo because it was calmer that way. And in the evenings we watched my parents' wedding recordings, my mother told us about her childhood and this village. I was there long ago, but I want to go now. I am at such an age when I can understand more about the place.

​​The material was created by

Authors and Transcriber:

Photographer and Interviewer:

Sofia Kotovych

Христина Кулаковська



Anna Pastushyna

​Tonya Smyrnova


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