We continue to publish the stories of people, who lost their homes as a result of the conflict in eastern Ukraine and Crimea, as well as of those, who lent a helping hand in difficult times.
You’re welcome to meet three friends: Angelina (on the left in the photo), Mariam (at the center), Dzhema (on the right). The events in Donbas made girls get much more mature faster, though they still remain the same restless, ambitious, sincere Ukrainian teenagers.
#Our friendship is something important for me, I really do not want to lose it. It’s the feeling I haven’t experienced for long time after we moved from Luhansk. I’m simply happy I have people whom I can call, chat, and meet with.
The term “IDP” is not so easy for me. It has happened to me. It was me, who left. When they say “displaced persons”, it doesn’t sound easy for me. I had to finish my last school year in Luhansk. For me, it was #a year when all the best things should happen to you, and I lost it.
I and several other classmates went to a high school, where we study for free, and the principal talked with us, she’s such a good, cheerful woman. She told us, “#No matter what happens to you, please tell me, I’ll give you my jacket, just to warm you up.”
#I would like simply to live. I am short of time now, I live far away, I spend about three and a half hours to get home. Time flies, and I wish summer came and I could just walk and just waste time a little, and, yes, I want to enter the university.
#I think Kyiv has changed not as much as Kyiv residents have. People experienced much last winter, some people more, some less, someone was not affected. Now all people have ribbons on their clothes. I remember when I had a ribbon on my backpack last year and walked in the evening, I was afraid someone would bully me. One more thing is when the adults gathered and patrolled the Podol district in Kyiv. It was so nice and strange when people just cooperated without grabbing the biggest piece of the pie, not because it was profitable, but because they wanted to help each other.
People in Kyiv #give not a little, but as much as they could. More people began to arrive, the resources are not infinite. Often people come and ask, “Well, what will I be given?” I worked in one organization which helped the displaced people in summer. One old lady constantly annoyed me saying that we had just youth clothes. I offered to help her to find some things, but she told me, “I see that you have only clothes for youth.” I am not guilty that mostly young people bring clothing. All people are different. If thousands of people come, all these thousands can’t be pleasant to me, right? I can understand people, especially the elderly ones, as it’s huge stress to suddenly move somewhere after having lived in one city for all your life.
Luhansk was changing along with people. The city has changed not only in appearance. The city began to change with that siren. The buildings were painted in drawn over and redrawn flags of Russia, Ukraine, swastika was drawn on the Ukrainian flags – that irritated me so much. I took spray and paint out as many Russian flags as I could. I was not afraid, though some people scared me, #I thought: we are Ukraine, what should we be afraid of?
The landmark place for me is the roof near the “Crystal”, opposite the Luhansk Hotel. I went there with my friends since the fifth grade. We arranged night picnics there. #When you spend the night there, watch the stars … it’s just something – it’s my place. When I arrived in Luhansk in the second half of October, I was alone. Two my friends were in Moscow, one friend was in Lviv, and I went to the roof. The city was already destroyed, not so much, but I didn’t experience the usual feeling. You sit there, and the place is still yours.
I share the common memories with Luhansk residents: we grew up together, we shared the same views once. I’m not speaking about politics, we are sixteen years old and it’s not the only thing for us to think about. #We walk as usual, skip classes, study, grow, but when the war started, I immediately began to think – whom do I support? What is better? I began to grow up.
My teacher at my new school asked me, “What don’t you roll to your Russia? Why don’t you live in Luhansk, why have you come to Kyiv?” “Excuse me, what have you said? Go to Luhansk and live there. It’s wonderful there, a little bit too hot, but why not.” At school, you can quickly find out that this girl is from Luhansk and one person in the whole class will ask you, “Why have you come here?” #I came to the Ukrainian city from the Ukrainian city. I wanted to do that, I wanted to enter university here, I love this city.
My achievement is that I #teach the class “Human Rights and Tolerance” in junior school. During the lesson, I argued with my teacher over the definition of tolerance. The principal attended the lesson, so now I teach the class. I can teach children so that they understand and are able to tell that someone. Some parents said to me, “My child treats his sister much better now, you’re so clever.”
The stories of girls are presented within the framework of the exhibition “My Place”, organized by the Educational Centre “Space of Tolerance” and the Congress of National Communities, supported by the Royal Netherlands Embassy. The authors of the texts are Kyra Kreyderman and Uljana Ustinova. The photos were taken from the family archives.