Life without basics: Struggle of Zakhar’s Family in war-torn Mariupol
Zakhar was born in Mariupol. When he was a small child, his family moved to Kryvyi Rih, another Ukrainian industrial city. But after a while, they returned to Mariupol because the city was developing well and had more opportunities than others within the Eastern Ukrainian region.
Zakhar liked Mariupol a lot, there he started his favorite hobbies – skateboarding and cycling. After the Russians occupied Mariupol in 2022, Zakhar and his family moved to Kryvyi Rih. Here he attends a theater studio and has many friends who were also forced to flee their homes because of the occupation.
Recently, Zakhar made one of his dreams come true – he saved some money and bought a guitar, and now he is learning to play the instrument. Here is how Zakhar himself describes his story of life in war-torn Mariupol.
Having light, gas, heat, water, I did not think about our dependence on these things. When a week after the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Russian troops, people in Mariupol were left without heating, gas, water, and electricity, I realized how vulnerable we are.
In order not to freeze, we constantly walked in outerwear and even slept in it. We cooked food on a fire, right next to the entrance, if there was no shelling. Little by little, we got used to living without the Internet, communication and light. The only thing you can’t get used to is thirst.
Even the explosions were not as frightening as the feeling of dryness and tightness in the mouth. A sip of water was perhaps the most welcome of all. Of course, at first we had some water supplies, but they quickly ran out. Then we used water from the boiler
and toilet tank. And then the rain saved us. I have never been so happy for it as I was then.
Yes, the dampness made it even colder, but there was life-saving water in the sewers and puddles. In a few days, the weather changed and it began to snow. We collected snow from cars, from the road, even from tree branches.
The melted water was incredible, but it was barely enough for the whole family and our parrots, cats, and dog. And then the parents decided to go to the spring, but it was very far away. When my parents took me with them, we walked along the burned-out garages and houses despite the whistling of shells and explosions. And then we carried so delicious, but so heavy water.
We were lucky, because not all people were missed by shells and not all returned alive. More than a year has passed since the day we escaped from occupied Mariupol.
I can make tea without leaving the house, wash things in the washing machine, take a bath in the bathroom. But it is still difficult to realize the degree of brutality of murderers from a neighboring country, who are ready to condemn people to martyrdom for the sake of their aggressive goals.
The letter of Zakhar was provided to ZMINA by the “Voices of Children” Charitable Foundation