Two years ago all of us got new neighbours. New moms with perambulators. New senior ladies in queues. New shop assistants in a shop nearby. They were internally displaced persons looking for peace in strange cities. IDPs who sometimes bore the stigma of “poorly-educated Donbas marginals”. The truth is they are different...
One young mother who had moved to Kyiv from Luhansk said: “We will be traitors everywhere and all the time now. Wherever we live. When we were leaving, taking our children away from shellings, from the year 1937 (the year when Stalin’s repressions were the most cruel), which was coming back, those who stayed there shouted “You are traitors, you have betrayed your city.” When we came here, people told us: “You are guilty of the war, you went to separatist “referendums”, the best of our men perish because of you.” We will never have home. Nowhere in this country.”
We will never have home. Nowhere in this country
Someone was leaving for a couple of weeks. Someone understood that they would never come back. Someone managed to take only the kids away. Someone failed to take documents. Someone was throwing family photographs into bags. Someone was taking feather grass which had been growing outside their home through checkpoints. They were catching last trains and strange cars. They were going to stay at friends’ or at some unknown place. They were leaving all their lives behind and hoped to start a new, happy or unhappy life from scratch. They dream about their homes which have changed forever. They can talk about their past for hours and they almost never speak about the future. They recognize each other in the crowd or in a strange city by some secret signs which only they know and they are happy to see each other. They are trying to build a new life here, in alien cities. Internally displaced persons. People who were uprooted from their previous life. Ukrainians. Who cannot find a place in their country.
Anna left Luhansk on May 4, 2014. She was freed from captivity that day. It was fairly easy to be captured then as Anya was recognized as Luhansk Euromaidan participant. Actually, she had never hidden her position. When she was captured, her friends telephoned to Andriy Parubiy (now, Speaker of Ukrainian Parliament) and he promised to help though he had never answered the phone after that. Still, his promise made her stronger. Her friends from “Vostok SOS” literally forced Anna and her daughter move to Kyiv. Anna says if they had not forced them, she would have stayed in the city to help her friends organize peaceful rallies. After her captivity, she still believed in peaceful rallies, in Ukraine and in Ukrainian Luhansk.
A week later, during the “referendum”, she came back home to take her car and everything she could stuff into it. She understood then that she and Maya, her daughter, would have to live in Kyiv for some time. However, she did not realize that that would take years. The majority of people who were leaving the occupied territories then took their clothes, electric appliances, valuables and documents. Anna took jars and bottles she had been decorating in her peaceful life. And a mug she had made with her own hands. And a bunch of feather grass. She says there is no such feather grass here...
She has never asked the state for help. On the contrary, she is sure that it is not the country that should help her but she should help the country as much as she can. She has degrees from three universities and they are a good foundation for helping others.
During the first days, she was wandering around the flats of some acquaintances who offered to stay with them for a couple of days. Then she managed to sell her flat n Luhansk and it partially helped to pay the rent here. Conducting workshops and trainings in psychology cannot be called a stable income, but she and her daughter manage to survive somehow. They do it themselves without asking anyone for help. All her free time Anna devotes to families of captured or missing. “Blue Bird” Organization provides not only psychological but also absolutely practical help. From how to submit different kinds of documents to the places where relatives can look for their family member, and to help with food and medical treatment.
Anna does not consider herself an internally displaced person. She lives in her country. She just lives in another city. Temporarily. At least, she continues to believe that it is temporarily.
She misses her home badly. She misses her walls painted blue. Her bathroom where she could be lying for hours listening to her favourite music. The paratrike which could take her up in the sky. The life which she lead before the summer of 2014. The life where she spoke about hand-made and not about tortures. Where Maya was a little princess, a girl with happy and carefree childhood. Recently, Maya, who is a second grader now, asked: “Mummy, why do we need all these things? If the war comes to Kyiv, what shall we do with them?” And mommy who is a qualified psychologist knowing how to help others failed to find words to answer her...
Lesya Lytvynova, migrants.zn.ua
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