On the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, we want to tell each other and the whole world about our lives during wartime. Members of our team have shared their worries and insights, accomplishments and anxieties. 

Read on to learn more.

«The war has proved to me that anything is possible. Literally anything. Both the best and the worst.  The war has shown me that all the people in the world are really close to each other. David Beckham handing over his Instagram to the doctor from Kharkiv, Angelina Jolie eating croissants one block away from our shelter… It is surreal, but it is our reality. The war has shown me how fragile are people I deemed unshakeable titans. I saw some people endowed with great responsibility, and they, too, are scared. They, too, long for someone to tell them they are doing things right», Katya, coordinator of the crisis department.

«What is life during wartime? It depends on who’s asking. On one hand, life goes on: you keep up with your routine, study, work, cook, and take care of your health and your loved ones. On the other hand, you are permanently changed. Every new day, every news report, every explosion gnaws at you. Then your wounds heal, you get stronger, and the cycle starts anew. To live during wartime is to receive a message from a friend stating “He died 3 days ago, but they have just told me” and to go to work Zoom call choking back tears. It means your kid is sending you videos about first medical aid and not cartoons. It means donating to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, working, engaging in volunteering, and dealing with the everpresent guilt and the global “not-enough” -ness. It is telling yourself “One more explosion, and then I’ll definitely come to the hallway”. One explosion later you go to the hallway with your pillow, learning from the news that a few blocks from you they are trying to get a family you don’t know from underneath the rubble. It means waking up exhausted and shattered. It means telling yourself “You’re not the only one feeling the same way, get it together. Everyone manages to live somehow, so do it as well, and stop whining”. It means discounting your problems and rolling your eyes when you read about another self-care workshop. It means not worrying about aging, as you’re not sure that you’ll live that long. It means joking about death and smiling a lot because it keeps you sane. It means sharing fury, pain, and guilt with everyone you know. And the scariest thing is, that living during wartime means getting used to it. And you just keep imitating the ordinary life»  Olya, head of the NGO «Feminist workshop».

«The war made me realize that material items actually hold no real value. What is truly valuable are people and their well-being. I dream about living a day without war,  when I wouldn’t need to worry about my close friends fighting at the battlefront or about my child being in danger because of shellings. I want to be carefree just like before the war, but I doubt that it is possible. These two years had aged me for at least ten years, and that doesn’t make me happy. I am grateful to the Ukrainian Armed Forces for the opportunity to live and work in Ukraine. I am also grateful to all the people who care», Maria, financial director.

«After Russia had launched the full-scale invasion, all Ukrainians including me constantly worry about our lives, about our loved ones, and our country’s future. Due to sirens, shellings, and chronic stress, we are all sleep-deprived. The war made me realize that people are the most valuable! We can get back anything war takes away from us – houses, money, clothes. Anything but people. Despite all the atrocities the war brings, there are also some benefits. During the war, I realized how important it is to support each other, be empathetic, brave, and kind, and always remember about the power of solidarity!» Tamara, teenagers’ needs coordinator.

«Living during wartime for me is being daily overwhelmed by the surge of emotions and feelings: fatigue, anger, pride, embarrassment, fear, despair. It is about delaying life “till it gets better”.  I am often ashamed of having a roof over my head and some food, when soldiers protect our freedom in the trenches, ignoring cold and danger. I realize that it’s not healthy, but I can’t help it. Life during wartime for me is about being envious of the whole world living their lives. Being envious, as now all of my plans are the money I donate believing I will be able to live yet another day. And then another one. It is about hoping that I will never again have to learn of the deaths of my loved ones and friends from the news. And then – donating money time and again. I also can’t do anything with my envy, but I really want to live again, and not just exist. I want to control at least something in my life. Living during wartime means reassessing all my life and all the problems. It is saying more frequently to my nearest and dearest that I love them as tomorrow may never come. It is about getting tired and burnt out, but keeping yourself together and living on», Anya, media coordinator.

«I always thought that war destroys your present and future. At least, I thought, you can always flee to the past, to your eternal safe haven free of constant fear and pain. It came to me as a surprise that war destroys the past well. Not only do memories start causing pain rather than letting you escape in your fantasies of a better life long gone. War also tries to physically seize every episode from your past. A missile fell on my playground leaving a huge crater. Memories of my first childhood crush and romantic gift (stone with flowers painted with gouache) turned into memories of the loss. Countryside vacation spot is now a symbol of Russian crimes. This list may go on and on, and I know that everyone has their own. After losing my sense of time as a reference point, I am searching for a new constant that would prevent me from losing myself. The first one is helping the army, as only they are capable of literally bringing the war to an end. The second one is all the moments that make me happy. When I make my friends laugh, when I see some absurd scenes in the city and cool cats in the sun, when the chestnuts are blooming in Kyiv. And as the future doesn’t exist as it did before, I got myself a dog with no fears and “but can I”-s. That’s how I live, loving my people and hating the enemy», Alla, international coordinator.

«What is my life during wartime like? Actually, I don’t see the point in telling this to other Ukrainians. To Westerners – yeah, they need to hear it.  But what can I tell to people that share my experiences? Which can I tell them when my house is not destroyed, when my loved ones are alive, and I am not at the battlefront? Of course, it doesn’t mean that my feelings aren’t valid, but I don’t want to tell about how bad I have it. I can’t even imagine how bad others have it. What insights and changes can I describe? It’s not a separate event you can reflect upon. It’s our life now, and our future, and our reality even after the victory. It will get worse. I can only accept this and try to keep living my life, doing something, trying hard, and helping others»,  Yaryna, community coordinator.

 

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