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Humans of Kyiv in the time of war. Part 2

Dear friends, now each person is a hero. Those who stay at home and hold informative war, those who left to save themselves and their family, those who host people, give shelter, help with food, those who joined the territorial defense, those who are medical workers, those who save animals. Our army, medics, firefighters are our heroes. Everyone is involved now.

The «Humans of Kyiv» team doesn’t have an opportunity to shoot and take interviews, so we decided to do it online. We want to document events that occur now through the stories of citizens.

Stay safe. We will win.

Nastya, the producer, organised a humanitarian help in Vinnytsia with friends

The night before everything started I planned an active working week and exercising. For some reason it all seemed surrealistic for me and that it just cannot be true, that this conflict is for one day and everything would end in 24 hours maximum. It didn’t end. I planned to go snowboarding and fulfil my very old dream - to go to the Carpathians for two weeks, rent something on my own and write, write scripts, write ideas, escape.

My boyfriend and I left Kyiv to my parents in Vinnytsia on the second day. We joined with our friends in Vinnytsia and organised our small fund, we are engaged in humanitarian aid, rais money, send it to Kyiv, Kharkiv. We send it where it is needed.

Our packages are delivered to the place and there is no happiest news then understanding that it is needed and will feed some big number of people, that it will be helpful. We all are praying now that the bus reaches Kharkiv and brings the important help, the medicine that we all packed.

We constantly host refugees, every day there is a lot of people, we try to cheer up a bit people who come from Kyiv, Kharkiv, from all dangerous spots. We drink tea and try to talk about how marvellous life after the victory will be and how we all will renovate it. On the first day of my staying in Vinnytsia we hosted a guy from Kyiv who rode a motorcycle on his own and carried a cat in a carrier as he couldn’t leave the cat alone in Kyiv.

The best that happened to us during this horrible situation is that we realized what an incredible nation we are, how many strong people are around us, how powerful all of us are and how much we felt our land. How much we felt that we want to fight for it and how much we are grateful that our government and our President make everything possible and stand for our interests.

Ou spirit have to endure it, we have to endure it but I hope that…I really hope that everything ends as soon as possible.

We want to be helpful a lot as well as lots lots of Ukrainians who try to do what they can and no matter where they are staying. And this is our strength. All of us who left should turn off a sense of guilt because I heard it from my friends that some do feel it. You just need to be helpful, look for work and do small but right things.

Dana, makes a photo diary of the war, stayed in Kyiv

On the 24th I planned to get my haircut done, because a week later, on the 2nd of March, I had to have a birthday, which I really wanted to celebrate, I even bought a funny pink dress. And the evening before it happened for some reason I wanted to sleep very early so I went to bed at 10 pm. At about four o'clock I woke up from strong anxiety, then fell asleep again, I live in Pushcha-Vodytsya and I did not hear any explosions. At 7:30 am I read a message from a friend from Munich: "Are you okay?" and immediately began to read the news. We all expected this, but it was hard to believe in it.

I immediately woke up my mother, wrote to my friends, it was very important to check if everyone were okay. My colleagues and I even had a meeting in zoom. Now we are constantly in touch with a large number of people, we write to each other, check the situation, emotional state, support each other, share memes, plan the future and very often say how much we love each other.

So far, I am at home in the Pushcha, although it is becoming more and more dangerous around here and I have to think about whether I should leave closer to the city centre, although it is also dangerous to go now, the road is shelled out.

The question of leaving Kyiv was not coming up, I knew immediately that I would stay, at least as long as possible, and I believe that it will be possible until the victory and Kyiv will not be taken. This is my home, I feel quiet at my land and don’t want to run away, although I was offered many options by my friends from Europe. Ireland has abolished visas for Ukrainians, and a trip to Ireland is one of my childhood dreams, but I want to go there not as a refugee, but as a free citizen of a free country.

My photo project "Flower Diary of War" helps me a lot, I didn't know that it would be so conceptual when I started it. After Russia's recognition of LNR / DNR independence, I bought a rose to soothe myself a little and then decided to buy a flower each day and collect a bouquet that will constantly change, renew and partially wither and die. And on the third day full-fledged war started and all the flower shops around me were closed, then I went to the wood and found a willow with eve buds. I decided that now I will definitely not give up it and will collect a flower each day till our victory.

Finding and photographing a new flower is a daily task that helps to distract from the news for a while.

Sometimes I have to dodge, for example, when it was impossible to go outside, I cut mistletoe from a tree in my garden and an apricot branch and a week later it really bloomed. My friend brought me a pink azalea from her pot now their family is gone. When those who at first stayed leave you becomes more anxious, but I am glad that they are now in a safer place. Those of us who stay in Kyiv are kind of strongholds for each other, it supports a lot.

Thanks to the flowers in my bouquet, I can remember what happened on which day, it also helps me not to lose touch with events, which is very important in an injury situation.

I met a family from a nearby village they have had no light since the second day of the war. I offered them to charge their gadgets at my place, wash things while we still have electricity and heating. I make tea for the territorial defence and for people who come to charge their devices. Connections, help and warmth between people are now extremely important.

I also learned to distinguish between hail, "peonies" and of course air defence. The sound of the latter calms me down a lot, the guys who do it are just incredible! I believe in the Armed Forces of Ukraine and I have no doubts about our victory!

Although it was not possible to celebrate birthday as planned I still wore a prepared dress for her birthday.

Glory to Ukraine!

Yura, territorial defence of Troeschyna, actor of Theatre on Podil

If the war had not started, I would have been participating in a premiere of the play and would have been at the shooting of a Ukrainian 16-episode movie. On the first days of the invasion, I served on the territorial defence of Troeschyna, at night patroled the area with a slot machine, slept on the floor in a sleeping bag. It was comfortable and warm to sleep. Now I take care of the animals of my friends who left the city, I have my own cat. I patrol the outside area where I live, check roofs, help an old neighbour woman to take the rubbish out, buy goods. I help to do anything I can.

I don’t see the point to leave anywhere for myself. And I don’t judge anyone among those who left. I understood that I don’t want to go. I am originally from Zaporizhia but I don’t have anyone to go to, so I am on my own. I decided to stay in Kyiv. And recently I woke up and realized that I was born in independent Ukraine in 1993 and I would die in independent Ukraine whatever it is now. I chose to be here and to help where I can. Now I am on the reserves of the territorial defence and if I am asked to join, I am ready to do it again

Taras, engaged in logistics, cooks food for the Armed Forces and territorial defence.

If the war didn’t start, I would have been on vacation. Now I am engaged in logistics, food, I just do anything. If it is needed, I will take the weapon and rush to protect.

We hold not simply a kitchen, we created a volunteer organisation, we provide goods to hospitals and just each person we see. Now we were switched to help the Armed Forces and territorial defence and we are almost one of the official providers of all of this. Obviously that we are not the only organisation but we do a lot. We feed almost a thousand people a day.

Why did I stay in Kyiv? Well, what’s the point of leaving? If I left, who would stay there? That’s a funny question. I am here, I can manage everything, everything is fine, I am an adult man so why would I leave. My children and wife are in safety, they left earlier.

I guard my city. What else can I do? I am ready to beat moscals. I wanted to do something and help guys at my place, where I live. But there is Hostomel nearby that’s why I am in Kyiv for now.

Yana, cooks food in the kitchen, looks for military uniform for territorial defence

There was a huge uncertainty in my life before the war and the war became a continuation of this uncertainty. I work now in the kitchen. It’s a kitchen that feeds territorial defence…or it is better to say that it is a state kitchen, that’s it. Goods are delivered here by the state but due to the fact that staff who work here left and went away, there is anyone to help. 700 people are to be fed three times a day, and elderly women work here it is really difficult for them. I don’t know what they would do if young people didn’t help.

I applied today, maybe I will be an official volunteer since we found some ways how to get some ammunition for the guys from territorial defence and I am actively engaged in it now.

My friends and I unite, organize the supply of body armours and helmets. These are the most needed things. And it is difficult to supply them as they are the most expensive and should be brought from abroad. But there are much more trifles that are not in stock in Kyiv already and they need to be found in Ukraine or again abroad.

I refocused on these tasks as I think that it is irrational to burn the candle at both ends and try to deliver lunch for pensioners, bring someone medicine and at the same time look for a military uniform so I chose such direction. For three days I cooked, then I rested at home, well…I took a hot bath just to gain some energy as I know that it fades quickly if you don’t restore it. It’s a kind of strategic decision. Now I am engaged in providing equipment for the TrD.

Frankly, I faced situations where people don’t do anything being in Kyiv but what I see is mostly a sort of a state of fear and torpor.

I even saw guys who just…they ask how to help but you give them some lead and they just stare at you. It is such a psychological state and it can happen with people who are here and who left. Almost all my friends left and I decided to join them. Go ahead if you want to help. We created a group chat and they do research, for example. I tell them that they can help remotely. Not all people can self-organize even when they want to help.

On the first day of war, my friend called me and told me that the war began at 6 am and my first reaction was also a stupor. I knew that it would start very soon but I just couldn’t make any decisions.

I have the whole family here, there are 85 years old pensioners and anyone except me won’t bring them medicine, food so I help them. I understand that I can be helpful in the city. I took my backpack and went to the railway station in the fog. I couldn’t buy tickets so I decided to return home intuitively. On the next day I understood that I would feel worse somewhere else than being here. I help physically and mentally. If I were in France or Portugal at my relatives’ place for example, I would only think about it and couldn’t relax until it is over.

Khrystyna, delivers food and medicine to pensioners, mother with kids

I the war had not started, I would have been preparing to a big BAROMETER International Bar Show which had to be hold at the end of September, and I hope it will be held. I would do my job, spend time with my son, continue my studies in Ukrainian film school, read books, meet my friends, stroll around the city, drink coffee. It would have been my normal life, very usual.

Today I am a volunteer and together with my team, we help elderly people, people with disabilities who stayed in Kyiv and who don’t have anyone. We help groups of people who stay in bomb shelters. We provide them with medicine, goods, food, anything needed. We help and try to do what we can and as much as we can now.

It’s my city, it’s my country and it would be difficult for me to leave and do nothing, that’s why I stayed. I stayed because it seems to me that it applies to everyone, everyone should try doing something. There are people who protect us and we should help them. There are people who are in need and you should help these people. It’s impossible to leave it, go away, leave these people. It’s just impossible to leave your city, your country, your people.

the «Humans of Kyiv» team believes in victory and in the Armed Forces of Ukraine.


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