On the 24th of February in the morning I was near Kyiv at my parents’ place. It is near Vorzel, Gostomel, Bucha and Irpin, literally 4 kilometers from the Zhytomyr highway. We felt the war when they started bombing the airport. Helicopters and missiles flew over me.
I went to the store to buy everything I needed, and I could hear the equipment flying over my head. I heard explosions from the Gostomel airport. Then I was alone and very worried about my family, whether they would be able to leave Kyiv, because the Russian military were already breaking through there, and my family was hiding in a bomb shelter. But after two days they were able to come and immediately after that they blew up the bridge in Stoyanka. That is, they literally drove to the dacha and blew up the bridge. They managed to get through.
For the next week we were under constant shelling. Day and night, fighter jets, enemy helicopters and shells were flying over us. In addition, the Zhytomyr highway was also constantly under fire. We lived on the line of fire without electricity and water.
I could not persuade my parents to leave for a long time, although I understood that the circle was narrowing and we might not be able to leave. We heard that our neighbor was driving along the Zhytomyr highway and his car was shelled. He survived, but the car was turned into a sieve.
On March 5, we decided that we would leave on the 6th morning. We had to drive along the Zhytomyr highway in the direction of Lviv, knowing that the Russian military were already there and shooting cars. We did not know whether we would break through or not.
Morning. This is the moment when you get in the car and your mind is counting not for hours, but for minutes. And you just do not know how much time you have left to live. And first of all you think not about yourself, but about your family. This morning of March 6, I will never forget, because you go to the road and you do not know what will happen next, but you have one desire to just break through and survive.
We were lucky. We only found out afterwards that many people were not as lucky as us that day. Many cars were shot at that time, but we broke through. There is another moment on March 6, for which I am very grateful to the Universe. We were approaching the Vinnytsia airport and it was being bombed just as we were passing near it. I saw shells falling and exploding.
We were driving along some rural road and about 50 meters from us a shell fell in the field. We were very lucky because it did not explode. At such moments, when you are in this situation, you cannot think straight, because the brain works a little differently. Then the only thought was that your life should continue. It will stay in your memory forever. We saw a lot of things on the road: bombed cars, destroyed houses, bridges, many cars burnt to ashes. These are very painful emotions and they will stay with me forever. We were really lucky. I do not know what to thank, but it is so.
We drove 28 hours to Lviv, and my friends took us in there. We lived in Lviv for a month, and then my friend and I decided to go to Bali. This is the state when you go not because you want to travel or relax, but when your parents tell you that you have to leave the country and you do not know what will happen next.
You come to a place which is a real paradise, but you are in a completely different state of mind. You cannot relax or enjoy. You do not know what to do next. In order to bring myself out of this state of depression, when I was completely detached from everything, I suggested holding events for Ukrainians who came to Bali. These were not entertainment events, but events about our traditions, culture, and values.
The first one we organized was the Embroidery Festival. We supported each other because everyone has different stories. Then there was Kupala, which was the biggest holiday that Ukrainians have ever organized in Bali. There we raised the topic of Ukrainian history, traditions and values. Part of these events was charity, the money from which we transferred to the funds of Masha Efrosinina and Serhiy Prytula.
Then there was Independence Day, where more than 300 people gathered. We made a big didukh as a symbol of the Ukrainian family. The last holiday that we made was the Cossacks’ Day, the Intercession. As part of this holiday, we organized a charity auction and collected 100,000 UAH, which we transferred to the United 24 Foundation.
I believe that now every person should do what they can. Some small part for the victory. Everyone has their own tools. It does not matter where we are now, but everyone does an important thing and brings our victory closer.