Russia-Ukraine war, the siege of Mariupol in the eyes of children: “We drank urine. They shot my mother in front of me”

There is Svitlana it has 10 years and overnight he lost contact with her mothersurgeon of Mariupol, killed by the bombing along with his father. There is Irina of 15 years who lived for weeks closed in one cellaralong with his nine-year-old brother and four-year-old sister: they had come to drinkurine not to die of dehydration. There is Diana who is 11 years old and saw her mother die before her eyes and warned the volunteers with a message: “Hello, mother is gone”. There is Anna who was tied to a chair and forced to watch as Russian soldiers shot her mother: “They hit her first foot, then the second, then her hands and finally her head”. These are stories about children and young people in Mariupol, collected by Vera Khvustpsychologist of Irpin who since February 24 works as voluntary with minors evacuated from the areas hardest hit by the war in Ukraine. “I am an educator and Psychologist, my job in this case is to act as a filter: when these guys are evacuated with the help of the organization I work for, once they are safe, they take a first talk with me. It is used to identify the type of their traumato then refer them to specialists, psychologists and psychiatrists who figure out which way to go. “This is how Khvust found himself talking to Svitlana, Irina, Diana and many other children and transcribing their stories. , some of which she later shared on her channel. Telegram. We have translated some of them:

Irina, 15 years
When everyone started talking about the possibility of an attack, we could not believe it would be so bad. Mom said they might have installed one alarm in the city, we laughed at it. When they attacked us, it immediately became impossible to escape. We went down to the basement, my mom held my sister in her arms Ljuba (four and a half years old) I held my brother in my arms You do (nine years). Everything shook. We had fear to move. With us in the basement was also the neighbor, with his mother a lot older and her six-year-old son. One day there grandmother he tried to find something to eat for his grandson, who kept crying. We only heard one shot. Grandma never came back. Mom wanted to go out and get some snow to dissolve to drink, but we felt that I Russians they were on the street and we asked her not to go, otherwise they would have killed her too. In the basement there were, among others mouse, at night they climbed on us. At one point we thought about catching them to eat them, but mom forbade us to. Lyuba cried a lot, but she did not need to because they could have heard us. He was hungry and thirsty.

One day, someone threw one of us out of the little basement window envelopethere was apples in syrup And Biscuit. Mom thought they were poisoned, but we decided to eat them, after which it was the same whether to die of starvation or of poisoning. Maybe they had left them there Ukrainian soldiers, because the neighbors had also found a similar envelope. Igor said that St. Nicholas had brought them to us. At one point, Mom started filtering urine through her clothes so we could drink because the Russians were right next to us. When we left the basement there were many lig on the street ate their remains of cats and dogs. It’s so nauseating. One more day in the basement and Ljuba would not survive. Igor wanted to be killed. That’s how it was daunting. Mother’s hair has turned completely white and she is only 38 years old. One of my friends, a classmate, they have it raped and then killed. In front of her mother and little sister. I will never forgive them. I want to take medicine, I want to graduate, and I want to poison them all. I wish the Russians did not exist, that their land was desolate, after all they have done. For now he is thinking about it Pope who fights against them, slaughters them.

Svitlana, 10 years old
Svitlana left Ukraine with her grandmother. The mother, a surgeon, stayed in Mariupol. The network of cell phones it started to go wrong already in the first days of the invasion. But as soon as she could find a place, Svitlana’s mother would contact her to assure her that everything was going well.

Vera, will mother survive?
I hope so
Not sure?
Sveta, mom does what she can to hug you back, but she also does what she can to save lives.
Will it not survive then?
He will definitely do his best.
You’re hiding something from me.

One day, Svitlana’s mother was seriously injured in a bomb blast.

Vera, I can not get in touch with mother. Even in the hospital, no one answers. I can get in touch with you, but not with mom and dad.
I do not know Sveta. Maybe they have no network? What does the grandmother say?
Grandma does not tell me anything, but I’ve grown up, I need to know.

Svitlana never heard from her mother, nor did her father. Khvust said that psychologists follow her and that the girl today lives with her grandmother in a small house that people who have read her story have made available to her.

Anna, 12 years
In this case, the name is fictitious because the child’s father gave Khvust consent to spread the story, but did not want their name published.

How are you feeling?
I do not know
Will you talk?
He took and shot mother in the foot and then shot in the other.
How did you feel?
I wanted to scream, I jumped on my chair and I fell, but they pulled me up and sat me next to dad and asked me to look in silence, otherwise they would have shot dad too.
Did you listen to them?
Yes, mother asked me. Then they shot at mom’s hands and laughed. They made fun of us, they said we deserved it. They forced mother to say she was Russian. Then they shot her in the head. Dad screamed, screamed so loud. But I did not cry. I hated them. I saw my mother go up to heaven. I saw a rainbow.

Diana, 11 years
By Diana, Khvust shares only a screenshot of a message and the previous conversation she had with the baby’s mother.

Vera, as long as there is camp, I will write to you. I feel sick. I think I want to die. Thank you for everything. Thanks for always keeping in touch with me who tried to take us away from here. I do not know why it happens, but now I think it should be so. I breathe hard and my eyes hurt. Pray for us. If I survive, I’m writing to you. Honor to Ukraine.

After a few hours, the woman reassured the volunteer that she was alive. But in the evening, it was little Diana who sent Khvust a message from her mother’s phone:

Mrs. Vera, I’m Diana. Mother died. What should I do?

‘We no longer know anything about Diana. Our volunteers they went to pick her up at the address where she lived with her mother, but she was not there. We tried to get in touch with aunt, which we had the number on, but we could not trace her either, ”says Vera Khvust. We ask her where you find the strength to listen to these stories. “I always try to stay calm, I let the boys let the steam out if they want to. When they use strong, hateful words against the Russians, I let them speak without giving assessments or express opinions about what is happening. So, when I’m alone, I cry, ”she explains. “At home, however, I try to leave the stories closed in the diary, where I write them down – adds the psychologist and volunteers – I try not to think about it, almost forgetting the individual stories, all the ailments.”

Vera KhvustThe idea of ​​sharing children’s stories came from her diary: “I have to transcribe their stories, it’s part of my Occupation to issue opinions to specialists who will follow the boys after me. After listening to Irina’s story, it dawned on me that it might be helpful to share ithorror of what happened. What people lived, children on the skin. “Khvust also talks about the conditions he finds these children in when he welcomes them after the escape:” Almost everyone suffers from post-traumatic stress. The elderly have symptoms of depression ”. And what happened to the children who left Mariupol, what was their future? “Who’s left? orphaned is located in foster families in safer areas of Ukraine. Others were welcomed from other countries, for example Anna and her father are in Rome “, explains Khvust, who has been in Italy since March 12.

“Our house in Irpin was quite destroyed, there is nothing left. My husband, I and our two children had moved in before Transcarpathyon the border ofHungary and Slovakia. Then we decided to leave Ukraine, but I still continue to work as an online volunteer with video calls on Zoom, as I always have, ”she says. As for the consequences of what her children experienced, she explains: “The little one is 8 months old, I do not know how much he realized, I think we will see the consequences of the stress he experienced. growth. The big one, on the other hand, is 6 years old, she is still very scared – he concludes – The other day she heard the thunder and thought they were bombed, she threw herself crying on the ground. IS frightened if he hears the ambulance siren and keeps saying ‘I’m afraid they’ll kill my little brother’ ‘.

Leave a Comment