Travelling Nowhere

Story: Olexandr, 2000 / Interviewed by Valeria

I was born in Sverdlovsk, Lugansk region, Ukraine.  It is a small mining town on the border with Russia.

In my city the war started on June 20, 2014. Everything was exactly as it can be imagined by a man who has never been to war. I woke up at 5 am from two blows and the roar of a flying plane. Soon after the explosions, there was an active firefight a few kilometers away from our house. It was not a surprise, we knew what was going on around us and it was only a matter of time before the active hostilities started. We got up and started making breakfast. At the same time we were monitoring news and statements from all sides of the conflict. My sister worked as a journalist and that morning her working day started brighter than ever before.

But what stuck with me the most is the moment of me watching the cartoon “Frozen” with my mother, when a few kilometres from us there was fighting.

My life changed. Some people began to support some incomprehensible things, new flags appeared on the streets, life has rapidly moved to the stories of the 90’s. There was propaganda in the school and mobile communication disappeared. There were interruptions with food and water. The history lessons practically disappeared from the curriculum. But what stuck with me the most is the moment of me watching the cartoon “Frozen” with my mother, when a few kilometers from us there was fighting. That was the day of the heaviest bombardments.

I moved when it became clear that it was necessary to continue getting a normal education. We did not have much choice where to move. A year after the start of hostilities we moved to Kiev, although we had no relatives or connections there. We bought tickets for the bus that was going through Russia – it was just dangerous to go directly – packed our things and went nowhere. The trip lasted 30 hours.

What helped me in this period was the belief that as long as you are alive, you can still get better. Humor, healthy cynicism and faith in yourself.

Olexandr, 2000