“We ran out of food as well. We survived with the help of our neighbours.”
Yana, 60, is remembering the first few weeks of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, four and a half years ago. She lives in what was once an ordinary industrial town – but is now caught between two warring sides of the ongoing war.
Inside Yana’s home, the furniture is worn, and the walls and ceiling are in need of repair. In a tiny bedroom, her husband is bedridden after a spinal injury. There are scattered photos all over the bed that show him and his wife when they were young and healthy.
As Yana sits next to her husband, he holds her hand and says, “Here is the love of my life.”
Yana’s two grandsons, Danylo and Maksym, now live here too.
“Before the war, the boys’ parents had divorced,” Yana said. “Their father went abroad and their mother moved to another town with her sons and remarried. Then the war started, and we were separated from them, as where they now lived was in the occupied zone.”
Yana began to cry, but her grandson, Maksym said again and again: “Don’t cry Granny, everything is okay now.”
Yana continued, “Soon, the boys’ mother was diagnosed with blood cancer. She passed away in a couple of months. The stepfather was treating the boys badly and we were so afraid for them. I knew I had to do something.”