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Humans of Kyiv in the time of war

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.

Mykyta, male nurse volunteer at "Hospitaller"

“For 24th of February, my alarm clock was set for 6 am, a commercial photoshoot was planned. At 5 am, I woke up hearing the sounds of an explosion, and it started. I had two very tough shooting days before. I hardly slept and was not on alert at all. I planned to rest a lot these weekends. Now I work as a volunteer as a male nurse of Hospitaller in Kyiv. We have a little sleep, even if there is not much work. Your organism and mind slowly reset to combat mood, and you get a necessary amount of energy from anywhere.

Sometimes it still seems like some kind of a nightmare that finishes once you wake up, and then I understand that only all together we will bring it to an end.”

Mykyta, territorial defence of Kyiv

On February 24-26, a month before the war, I had a large-scale shooting planned at the Ministry of Transport. For the earned money, I wanted to buy my own weapons, bulletproof vest, unloading - full combat equipment. I also planned a few small shootings and went out with friends - it’s hard to cope without this. Going to the pubs, meeting people. I even thought I would have a romantic relationship, but …

For the last four days, we have been given the weapons, some armor - everything they had. Then we formed the subgroups and took care of security, checked documents, found saboteurs, and a bunch of other similar stuff. In general, territorial defense is fighting saboteurs, looters, and similar human slag, which we don’t need in Kyiv. We follow the order.

To be honest, I knew somewhere in the back of my mind that there would be a full-scale war, but I didn't want to believe it. But.

The day the first shelling of Kyiv began, friend woke me up at five in the morning and said, "Well, man, it's started." This day, the first day, we spent with my loved ones in Kyiv. Then my acquaintances from the Territorial Defense came after me. I sent my mother to the village, a little further from the city, collected my clothes, and left.

When the war broke out in 2014, I didn't have enough balls to defend my country. But here, I made a promise to myself that if there is such a shit - a full-scale invasion, then there is no matter the cost. We are going to defend our country.

Sorry for the incomprehensible story - my head is not working, for the last four days, we have slept very little. But today was a real holiday - we had a major gym nearby, the owner invited us to use the shower room.

I'm glad to be here. The best people are with me, and it is very joyful to be with them. There are its difficulties and shortcomings, intense discomfort. But everything will be Ukraine.

Tonya, Teya’s mother, translator at "Humans of Kyiv"

“I was to take my daughter to kindergarten and after I had a meeting planned with a new hero of “Humans of Kyiv” on the 24th of February. I had an appointment to submit documents for a British visa as we wanted to visit my sister in London in spring. I woke up on Thursday at 5 a.m. because of explosion sounds and alarms in the yard, then my sister’s husband called and told me that the war had started, and we immediately needed to run and go somewhere.

Our family talked, and we agreed that we were not going anywhere. We stay in Kyiv. The next day after a signal, my daughter and I went down to the subway station, spent some time in a shelter, and went to my parents, who live in a different area of Kyiv. We believe that our armed forces of Ukraine will win. We broadcast the information on all channels, coordinate our friend’s logistics. My daughter is the only one who still can sleep at nights.”

Oleksii, evacuated 10 people and 1 cat.

"I planned to go to my relatives in Morshyn to celebrate my niece’s first birthday. Ukraїner team organized many crews to get people from Kyiv to West Ukraine on the first day. I have been evacuating people from the capital for two days in a row. I slept 6 hours out of 58 hours of evacuation took out ten people and a cat. Drove 1400 kilometers of village roads.”

Taras, patrols the district of Kyiv, make Molotov coctails

“My plans for the 24th-26th were to go to the ballet on the evening of the 24th, and on the 26th, I planned to work at the festival of natural wine «SuperNatural.» On the 24th, I took my family out of the town and helped 9 of my friends settle in a country house. We sleep in the basement because Bucha and Hostomel are located nearby. We hear all shelling and explosions. Today my friend and I tried to join the territorial defense.

We patrol our residential area, make Molotov cocktails. My girlfriend recently had her wisdom tooth removed, and today the stitches had to be taken out, so my friends and I managed to do it without doctors. It turns out you can do it by yourself. “

Olya, organized a shelter, cooks food for people

Я“I live in a flat above my café in a post-war building. In my utility rooms, there are basements. They are solid, warm, and clean. On Thursday 24th, I planned to have a meeting concerning a new project, approve equipment and planning, and sign an agreement with new contracts. New storage racks and tableware had to be delivered to the café. On the 25th, we planned to participate in a flea market and natural wine festival.

On the 24th of February, I woke up because my phone burst out of messages and calls informing me that the “war had started.” I called my mom, staff, friends and strictly made them come to my place. During these days, 45 people gathered in our shelter, 10 out of them are kids, eight dogs, and five cats. Some people left, and we sheltered others.

My mother cooks homemade food all the time, and it adds coziness a lot, and it lifts our common spirit. We had a chat that we named “luxury shelter” as a joke, and it was amazing when I wrote here to invite people to have breakfast in the café — cottage cheese pancakes, crepes, coffee, and tea smell around. My foreign friends sent me financial help to buy goods, which I did.

We are afraid of marauders, that’s why we don’t publish our address. We set a time when all our doors are closed and roller shutters are let down. The main is that all people joined and we have each other. We try to respect each other’s sleep and tranquility. Our resident’s age is between 2 and 68 years old.”

Olya, military’s girlfriend

My boyfriend is a reservist, so he knew that he would go to the service on February 22 in the evening when Zelensky announced mobilization. On the 23rd, the guys from his service came to us and discussed plans for the next day: what things to take, where and what to buy, how to go to their military unit, and so on. And so, 24.02 at 5:58, my friend called me. At first, I rejected him twice because I thought he bullied me. But when I answered, I understood ... it started…

I woke up my boyfriend immediately, we got together in 15 minutes and went to his apartment to get some things. Then we stopped by his mother and sister. There was an unexpected acquaintance with his mother because I hadn’t met her before and only heard from her. After this meeting, we met his friends, bought extra machine gun belts at a military store, and came to our apartment. I quickly cooked some food for the boys, fed them, and sent them away.

All this time I was calm because my boyfriend was there. But as soon as they left, I got hysterical. It's good that my psychologist was in touch and was able to calm me down. I understood that on the 24th, he would go to the unit, but I didn’t know what would happen, that now he would be not in the unit, but elsewhere…

The first day was the worst. I was at home but could not sleep at all, waiting for his message or at least online status. I lost any connection with him at 6 p.m. and got no response until 1 p.m. Of course, I already thought about the worst. I almost cried when I received the first message that he was fine.

On the 25th, at about 4 am, I heard an explosion. I quickly took my things and the cat. I ran to the nearest shelter. There I met (Juliana - probably a friend?) friends who were also with cats, so they settled together to make the cats calmer. And since I just can't sit still, I learned that there are not enough walkie-talkies, I was able to collect only ten pieces, but that was at least something. Yesterday the people had to break the door of our office building because an iguana was left without water and food, and we managed to free it.

I immediately understood that I would not go. It was my moral position. I am on my land, in my city. If everyone runs away, our defenders may lose their spirit. I don't think that may really happen, but I had this thought. I will not leave my mother and boyfriend here alone. My mother is the headmistress at the school with a bomb shelter. She is on duty and helps people as much as she can.

I can say that I am lucky with the people here and with the conditions because I know that most people do not have such now.

But still, I can not sleep properly, I respond to every message. I do not want to miss the time when my boyfriend has the opportunity to talk a little, and I'm sleeping here. There is no possibility to speak to him. We just correspond. He is constantly worried about me, trying to cheer me up. He is confident of Ukraine's victory. Everything will be fine, we believe in it very much. And we must not lose optimism.

Vyacheslav. «Defence of Ukraine» teacher and Geography teacher, coach of Dzhura pupils School. Combatant of 2014-2015.

On the 24th I was in Vorohta, we planned a winter conquering of Hoverla. In the morning when I found out that the full-scale invasion of Ukraine started I departed to Kyiv. Now I am a member of the unit at the military registration and enlistment office. We are patrolling the city, eliminating sabotage groups and at the same time preparing for a more serious recapture of Kyiv. I provide our unit with volunteer assistance, which is accumulated in one of the schools in Troyeschina, where I teach.

At my initiative, the school started baking bread and passing it on to our unit. Overall, I bring help to our department every day. By the way, today we had pizza for dinner. My student’s mother brought 70 pizzas for the boys from the territorial defence. I also started conducting "distance lessons" for students, parents and teachers.

On February 28, I gathered 70 people in the zoom meeting. We calm children down, explain what the war is, or just make jokes. We tell the children that the Armed Forces of Ukraine is the strongest army in the world and that the whole civilized world helps us. We do not hide information about the insane losses of the enemy.

People are now united as never before, the Armed Forces and the Territorial defence are receiving crazy support from the civilian population by all possible means, and there are queues on the streets of those who want to join the defence. These queues have not ended for five days in a row. We have no choice but to win. This is our land, the land of our ancestors, we have nowhere to run. We are not mankurts. We are fighting for our childrens’ and grandchildrens’ future. Holding on, everything will be 4.5.0.

Anisha, 8th day in Kyiv

I came from Vienna, and almost on the next night the war started.

I planned to get back to work, teach a management course, and planned to renovate the apartment. On the 25th of February, I was to send my mother to Turkey on February 25. Now writing I understand that I miss this routine so much. The day before the war, we gathered with the family for dinner and discussed that Putin is complete biomass, but he is not capable of a full-scale war with Ukraine.

On the first day I woke up at 5 am because of my boyfriend’s call: "Baby, the war has begun." He gave me instructions over the phone on what to do and what to take. I couldn’t hear or understand anything as I was scared and panicked: «How the hell war?". You know, I didn't prepare for it - I didn't pack go-bag, I didn't withdraw cash, I didn't have an evacuation plan. We decided to stay in Kyiv as much as possible. We are still here now.

I felt everything during this week. On the first day were fear and panic, on the second day were fear and hatred, on the third were hatred, pain and pride. Then everything just mixes up. You hardly sleep, you check the news every minute and just rejoice that you are alive.

The worst is the first few nights when everything inside freezes from the missile’s sounds and fighter planes flying over the house. It's scary when it bombs all night less than 2 km from you. The brain is now adapting to the sounds of air alarms.

We gathered all locals from the area, reviewed the shelters, and the small ones were immediately distributed among the families and the elderly people. On the first days of the war there were a lot of people in the subway and everything was chaotic - adults, children, pets. There is now a separate train, and the carriages are divided between families and the elderly.

Two days ago we stayed overnight in the subway, we wanted to stay until 2am but in the evening everything is closed with a gate, and you can leave only at 7 am. It's very cold there so you need to be very prepared and take mattresses, winter clothes or thermal underwear. Food is distributed right here. Yesterday we had potatoes with meat and a salad with cabbage, and also sweets and marshmallows. Everyone is very friendly, helping each other.

One old man didn’t feel well, everyone thought he had a stroke, got up and ran with the guards. That man woke up and said, “God, why did you all come here. That’s not a big deal if the old man dies. Death is death. We have more serious problems now. ”

At home we also arranged a shelter - a vestibule, a corridor (it is behind two walls) and a bath (I spend there a night). These days we already gained a maximum level in arranging a home shelter and we know how to have enough sleep in an hour or two.

Of course, we are emotionally exhausted, you want to cry (I do cry), you want to wake up and live your life but the mix of hatred for the enemy and pride for the country, people, the Armed Forces, the President, support of the world cover everything. And if you convert this emotion into help and volunteering, you become a full person and a part of something unique, common, equal and strong.

We try as much as possible to maintain the routine during the day: to solve the business, to take a shower, to cook, even if we don't really want to. Because we need strength now and in the future. Especially to breathe new life into Kyiv when the war is over.

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


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