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"I know who bombed me. It was russia"- the rescue story of two sisters from the city of pain – Mariupol

"I know who bombed me. It was russia"- the rescue story of two sisters from the city of pain – Mariupol

I would come home on foot if they said that Mariupol is Ukrainian again. I am 60 years old, and now I am not sure whether the state will provide me with any housing at all. It is humiliating for us, even though we are not the ones to take the blame.

Mariupol has been under blockade by Russian troops since early March. The captured Ukrainian servicemen heroically defended the territory of the Azovstal plant, which was bombed by the Russian occupiers. There were civilians and the Ukrainian military in there. The city is currently occupied. The true scale of the horrors in Mariupol is beyond comprehension. According to preliminary estimates, there are about 20,000 killed and murdered. And those who managed to survive in Mariupol and stayed in the city, are now facing a new danger – the cholera epidemic.

Our heroines, sisters Olena and Olha, who managed to escape from Mariupol under fire and who received targeted assistance from the Caritas-Spes Mission, told us how they lost everything within a moment. Until recently, women did not believe that real genocide and brutal cruelty to people who just want to live in their home country are possible in the civilized world.

Olena: “On February 24, we didn't even realize that the war started. We thought they would shoot for a couple of days and that's it. The mayor of Mariupol immediately abandoned us, leaving the city with almost no leadership. The left bank was left without water and gas at once. We didn't feel it even then, because we live in another part of the city. As early as March 2, we had no electricity, gas or communications. We found ourselves in a vacuum.

Next to our house was a bomb shelter of the sports complex, which was supported by a citizen who transported drinking water for us, as well as to the neighboring districts.

In the beginning, we managed to get into our apartment. But on March 12, a bomb fell near our house, and an explosive wave carried us into the corridor. When we went around our house, there was a wasteland on the place of the next building. My son-in-law and I ran half the city on foot to get to another district, but our relatives' houses were already damaged there as well.”

The next shelter, according to Ms. Olena, was overcrowded. One woman gave birth right there. Water for the child was carried in pots under fire and heated on fire in the street.

Olena: “On March 17, they started to shell near the house where we were sitting in the basement. People began to quickly grab their things and run away. I remember my six-year-old granddaughter crying silently, telling me, "I don't want to die. I will never forgive anyone for this."

Ms. Olena and her sister Olha were in the shelter until March 23. The day before, her sister was wounded by a fragment in her arm.

Olena: “On March 23, a Russian tank fired straight into our basement and broke through a wall. They knew people were there. The house above us was on fire, and we just jumped out of the basement, ran down the street between the corpses and through the minefield. When we saw a group of DPR soldiers with white armbands, I asked one of them: “Officer, are you going to shoot in the back? You'd better kill me right away."

The woman says that she and her grandchildren managed to return to the remains of their apartment and spend a night there. The next day they began to escape. The Russians with guns were taking people to Russia. She miraculously learned about the possibility of leaving for the occupied Berdiansk, because that was the only way to return to Ukraine. The next day, a convoy of 15 evacuation buses to Zaporizhzhia arrived in Berdiansk. The woman's granddaughters were already in Dnipro, as Zaporizhzhia MOE workers were able to take them out earlier.

Olena: “That's how we left. It was extremely hard and under fire. When I saw Mariupol, I was horrified with what the russians had done to the city. Mariupol was so beautiful and renovated, and they simply destroyed it. I saw a video on the Internet where Russian militaries were looking at Mariupol from our water tower, saying: "What a beautiful city." It flashed through my mind, "Who on earth gave you the right even to walk there?"

They took everything, and most importantly they took memories. I would come back home on foot if one said that Mariupol is Ukrainian again. I am 60 years old, and now I’m not sure whether the state will provide me with any housing at all. It is humiliating for us, even though we are not the ones to take the blame. I have a degree in mechanical engineering, worked as a designer, used to be a head of the production preparation department.

We were never rich, but it was all fine for us. I have two granddaughters, and I wanted to leave them something, like all grandmothers do. And now I have nothing. Why? What have we done? Wanted to work and live? Is that why russia calls me and my granddaughters Nazis? The killers came. Until recently, no one had ever imagined that they could do this to us. They have nothing sacred."

Olha: “I wanted to add that we now know exactly where we are, who is by our side and who we are. We came to Ukraine and will never betray it.

I really want to go home, but it is rather a 50/50 feeling. On the other hand, it is very scary. Looking at the people clapping their hands for russian passports? Knowing where the corpses are buried and walk on them. I do not wish any good to the attackers. I do not feel sorry for them at all. There is only one desire to take revenge for everything I saw.

I worked as an educator for preschoolers in kindergarten. I worked with so many children. I contributed 25 working years to other people's children. The kindergarten where I worked has been destroyed, it simply doesn't exist now. The school where my husband, my daughter and my son went has been shelled. The drama theater, which the Nazis did not touch during World War II, is now also destroyed, having taken lives of children and adults.

I know who bombed me. I was russia. I will not forgive it, not a drop of tears. We could be breathing the warm air from the Sea of ​​Azov right now, even the air from Azovstal (ed. cries). We invite you to the sea when the city is rebuilt. Mariupol is Ukraine."

30 June 2022
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