A few weeks ago I went to Ukraine. It’s been 5 months since I fled. I’m happy to have visited my first home. (Yes, I feel like Germany has become my home). Even though it was sometimes quite heavy.
At the first sight, everything looks completely normal – people going around their business, going out, enjoying the summer at the river, in the mountains. But if you look and listen closer, you begin to see the background, the war. It’s in every other conversation, it’s on stickers at every single stationary store, it’s on socks and t shirts, it’s in the local jokes and memes, it’s at an exhibition of damaged russian military equipment, it’s in funerals after all.
I talked to many people, heard their stories. And it made me feel quite powerless.
A friend from Zaporizhia has been living at my place for 3 months. His father has served at the 0 line, which is in direct contact with russian army. Basically they’re used there as cannon fodder. His father got badly injured when a mine exploded next to him, he lost his hearing and some pieces got into his lungs. He hasn’t recovered yet but the head doctor got an order to check him out anyways to send him back to fight. Luckily this family managed to let him stay in the hospital. But it was very anxious time for them. And there are more families like this.
At the demo when Gutters and Erdogan came to meet Zelenskyi in Lviv, i heard a story of a father of an Azov battalion fighter. He lost touch with his son back in May 18th. Noone knows where he is, dead or alive. He’s angry at the president because Zelensyi’s was a warrant of their safety, he’s angry at the international organizations like Red Cross who don’t do what they’re supposed to do which is provide humanitarian aid in conflict zones like this on as well. He’s desperate.
People have been losing their homes, their family and friends, or at least sources of income. Nobody knows when or where is going be the next landing of a russian missile, whether they’re home will be destroyed. Luckily this time nothing has happened, though the sirens howled every other day. But people are still anxious.
And then there’s the NPP in Enerhodar and hell knows what’s going to happen there. Because even if the ruscists don’t blow it all up to smithereens, nitrogen and radioactive elements have still been leaking.
People are anxious, they’re exhausted.
Nevertheless, I had a great time with the people dear to my heart. I enjoyed treating an old friend with delicious vegan pizza. I enjoyed making necklaces with a 4 y.o. daughter of my friends. I enjoyed going to the dance classes with my fabourite teacher. It felt so good to be there again, to move! I enjoyed staying at my family cottage at the foothill of Karpaty. I finally went through some photos I took on my camera at my solo cycle tour last summer. I enjoyed hanging out on the River in Stryi. Visiting the River is always relaxing. I’m glad I could be there for my friends and give them much needed emotional support and reconnect with them. And i find it valuable the stories i heard even though they’re heavy.
I reconnected with my home.