Little Mitten

Anastasiia, Donetsk region, 01.04.2022

Little Mitten

Good day!

I will add a bit of my story to the photos. For me the war started at 5 am on the 14th. When the first shells hit the houses of my students, which are just a couple of streets away from me. I woke up from a horrible noise and without yet understanding what happened, I ran to my son. Then the silence came with the understanding of what was going on. When I asked in a student group chat if everyone was fine, one of the girls sent a photo of his house.

They were lucky as no-one in their family got hurt, but their neighbour, a bit from grade 7, got his arm torn off. We tried to comprehend our current situation. Over the first two days, my family and I were arranging our basement-shelter. But it seemed to us at that time that we were doing it just in case. But the night of February 26th has proved that wasn’t the case. There was the first very intense shelling and we spent half of the night in the basement, and in the morning we had guests visiting our shelter. Our poor neighbours had spent the whole night outside in a pit. Scared and freezing they asked to join us in our basement as they did not have where to hide. So we got 10 people (3 of whom were children) in our “Little Mitten” shelter. They were settling in three rows per shelf. With every passing day, it was harder to survive: at first, we lost the connection, then electricity, water and gas. What saved us is that there was a pool with water in our yard, we were using that water later.

During the first week, it was very cold and we had to sleep in our warm clothes. Later, our husbands figured out how to make a stove and at least the heating returned to us. This is where we warmed up and cooked food.

We felt the first biggest fear, when a shell hit a big gas pipe near us and the gas filled our basement. Everyone was panicking, because a battle was going on outside, but one could not breathe in the basement. And in the morning, we heard on the radio as if there could be a green corridor and we grabbed our belongings and left. But that information was fake, so we settled at the place of the people we know on the other side of the city, with a hope that they will open as passage (it was more or less quiet there at that time). But that did not happen and we decided to go back to our home, as there at least was a basement.

The way was just a horror. When you are driving through your district and see a lot of destroyed houses, and especially those where my students used to live, and you do not know if they survived. Next week was just one big shelling. The sounds of constant shootings and explosions almost did not subside, and the sounds of aircrafts and air strikes added to that. I do not know which force is saving us, but the shells have hit the houses of all of our neighbours but not ours. One only hit our garden, 15 metres away from our basement. This is how we could stand until the 18th of March when our other neighbours’ house was hit and our neighbours decided to leave (they have a minibus) and we went with them, because otherwise we would not get out. I will remember that road forever. More destroyed houses, corpses of the military and civilians were lying along the road, there were mines on all roads. All of it was accompanied by explosions. It was a horror. I cried all the time while on the road. I still cannot be calm when I remember this and this is why I just give a general description of what was happening. Very few photos are left from that time, because they would check the phones at the checkpoints and were forcing people to delete. This is one of the more or less calm evenings, when we could get out from the basement.

And also a video of my destroyed school ((How much energy I put into it and everything was burned)) I hope this information helps. I am genuinely thankful for the help. Have a good day and best wishes!