“I’m 32 years old and live in the Kherson region of Ukraine. I started playing violin when I was five years old. I got my Bachelor’s degree in violin and Master’s degree in viola. I’ve played around the world since 2013 as a musician on cruise ships. One month before Covid started, I finished my contract and returned home for vacation. I now live in Kiev and teach violin in music school. I was one week away from one of my biggest dreams coming true. I competed and got a job playing in the Kiev Symphony Orchestra. I was so happy. We were working on Wagner to play on March 4. Then Russia invaded.
I didn’t believe something like this could happen in the 21st century. I didn’t watch the news and wasn’t prepared. No one was. I didn’t buy extra food or supplies. The evening before the invasion was a normal night. I came home from my lessons at school and spent the evening with my boyfriend. I woke up at 5 a.m. to the Russian army starting to bomb Kiev, setting off explosions and car alarms. I received texts from bosses, family and friends–something terrible happened.
In a panic we started to pack, but then decided to stay. It was difficult to leave the capital with traffic jams and gas stations full of people. This is our home country, why should we have to escape? While I was away from Ukraine for years, I dreamed of being home. I couldn’t leave again. So we are staying in our beautiful home. We use our parking deck as a bomb shelter, and some nights we have slept there.
It is hard to describe everything going on. Each day feels like a lifetime. My parents are blocked in their little town. There is no shooting there now, but there is also no gasoline, medicine, or food. My closest friend, Tatiana, is in her apartment with her two kids and sister. They don’t have a shelter, so they hide in the hallway. She cooks food at home and takes it to the hospital. There are shootings, bombs, explosions and missles every day. Cities are blocked, and it’s impossible to escape.
My 60-year-old aunt had cancer surgery and was lucky to get back to their house in the countryside. They hid 20 neighbors in their basement during catastrophic fights all around. My aunt carried a machine gun to protect the people around her.
My brother lives with his wife and two young kids in their apartment next to an airport. The house next to them was bombed. The kids are sleeping in the shelter and my brother is one of the security guards on duty at night. Fighting destroyed their little flower farm in the country.
I am still teaching kids online, but we have an alarm every two hours and have to keep going to the bomb shelter. Unfortunately there are no concerts or rehearsals in the future, but we are having a house concert in our parking deck for our neighbors.
Life will never be normal ever again. Our minds won’t be okay again. Russian people don’t know, or don’t believe us. Their news says we wanted this ‘peace release.’ I’m spreading information to my Russian friends and family to explain that they are killing our nation, our kids, our families, and our mothers. I feel like our brothers are destroying our lives with this war. We will never forgive this. We are a strong country with good people who care for each other. We didn’t ask for peace because we had it before this madness started. It’s a nightmare that you can’t wake up from.”
Here is a video from the parking deck concert
Iuliia a member of a charity foundation Saint Olga in Hola Prystan and her mother is one of the women in charge of the charity. Here is the link to their Facebook page to see their work. Click on translation to read it in English. https://bit.ly/3HTxrNu