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"Six in an apartment, not counting the dog". A family from Tsupivka, Kharkiv region, miraculously escaped the occupation and is rebuilding their house, dreaming of returning home

"Six in an apartment, not counting the dog". A family from Tsupivka, Kharkiv region, miraculously escaped the occupation and is rebuilding their house, dreaming of returning home

Kateryna and her husband Oleksandr and three children miraculously did not fall under the Russian occupation. They lived in the village of Tsupivka, Kharkiv region. The border with Russia is 10 km away. Two days before the full-scale invasion, they came to Kharkiv for Iryna's mother's birthday. They did not know then that they would not return home.

"My children and I were looking forward to February 22, my mother's birthday. Cake, sweets, greetings. Who knew that we would lose our home, and our father would end up in occupation," recalls Kateryna.

While we were talking, the children - Dmytro, Masha and Nikita - were building Legos on the floor. In the centre of the structure is a toy machine. Kateryna wants to believe that the war will not affect them much. Moreover, the youngest son has a heart defect from birth - and he is especially protected: "We try to be calm, so they are also calm. When there are shots or an alarm, we do not show that something is happening. We have to live on."

When the invasion began, the family left for Poland: "They were in the city of Zator for five months. A Polish family sheltered us in their house. But it was hard to be away from home. Therefore, as soon as it became safer in Kharkiv, we returned, that was in August 2022."

But the family cannot yet return to their native village. During the occupation, several shellings hit the courtyard and garden. The windows in the house were broken, and the roof was broken: "We still don't have electricity, only gas. My dad went back there, and he will probably come back to us again soon because it's cold there."

According to Irina's recollections, during the first shelling her father was still on the phone, during the second he was also lucky - he was in another part of the village, and after that, he decided to leave the occupation on foot: "I came under fire while walking, but I managed to go out still. He lost a lot of weight, but the main thing is that he is alive."

Now Iryna's father is rebuilding their house. It is hoped that the whole family will be able to return one day. For now, I have to rent an apartment. Iryna's husband got a job as a driver, and the children go to clubs.

"We will definitely be in Kharkiv this winter, and we'll see what happens next," says Kateryna. — I want to go to work in the spring. I hope that kindergartens will start working and I will be able to leave children there. It is difficult to live on the salary of a husband and government support. We are currently renting a flat. But when dad returns for the winter, it will be cramped: six people in one flat, plus a dog."

Today, the entire focus of the family is on children and groups for their future: drawing, learning languages, IT school.

"We invest everything in the future of children and their health. With the funds received from the Family to Family project, we bought two desks for the children and a computer. Dima also underwent eye surgery," Kateryna said.

The family had already arrived in Tsupivka - and tried to maintain a positive mood: "Yes, the children said that they slept, studied and went out here. But thanks to our reaction, they calmly accept what is happening now." Before the occupation, about a thousand people lived in Tsupivka. At the time of dismissal, no more than ten remained.

The grandmother, thanks to whom the whole family ended up in Kharkiv, is most worried about her grandchildren when the city is shelled. But accepts the children's choice to live in the city for the sake of the children.

The Ukrainian-Polish project "Family to Family" has been running since October last year in the Kyiv-Zhytomyr Diocese, and since February this year - in the Kharkiv-Zaporizhzhia Diocese. "Caritas-Spes Ukraine implements it in cooperation with and thanks to the support of Caritas Poland. The project is aimed at supporting Ukrainian families in financial need and affected by the consequences of the war in Ukraine.

30 October 2023
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