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Alina Hlukhova



How did you experience war in 2014? What do you remember from that? How old were you? How did 2014-2015 go for you?
Please tell this story in detail.

In 2014, when the war started, I was studying in the 11th grade, I was 17 years old. I clearly remember how I woke up in the morning from the explosions. They weren't as close as now, but still I was surprised and a little scared. Back then, everything went quietly and the scum came into the city at the time of my graduation, which we didn't have, just like the city didn't have the ZNO exams (that's why most of my classmates didn't get into an institute). The rusaks took away from us the celebration of finishing school and the opportunity to study further. In order to settle somehow after school, I went to live with my relatives in Kharkiv, passed the entrance exams, and lived there until the liberation of my city.
On July 21, I turned 18, and on the 22nd, the occupiers left Sever. It was the most wonderful gift - I could return home and see my family and my boyfriend.
At that moment, I still did not understand all the horror that was happening, but I clearly understood that outsiders wanted to take away my home. I could not understand how some individuals wanted this occupation, even went to vote for it. I got to know what people without a brain look like.
I didn't go to university, so I studied for a year in Lysychansk at a pedagogic college, prepared for the exams the following year, which I passed and entered the Kharkiv Institute.

"Where were you these 8 years?".
How has this time passed for you, what changed in your life since the events of 2014?
What has influenced you the most during this time?
Please write in detail.

I spent these eight years in Ukraine — I studied in Kharkiv at the Faculty of International Relations, flew to Turkey for a job from my uni, went to festivals and parties, and traveled around Ukraine. I lived a regular student life. I had friends and acquaintances who lived in occupied Luhansk, and I know very well about the "wonderful" life there. It was a wild thing for me that the post office, bank, communications, air and railway connections do not work there. A wonderful large industrial city was turned into a remote village with bums, in which you can go outside only at a specific time, and entertainment there consists of drugs and performances of old, forgotten russian "stars" on the square for pseudo-celebrations. I felt only revulsion towards that republic. It was clear that it was a degradation and that the people who remained there were already lost.
In 2016, my mother went to serve in the Armed Forces, along with her husband and brother. Our family, to put it mildly, was not delighted with the events in our region - no one had any thoughts about "fraternal nations" and the "pluses" of the occupation, no one wanted to watch it and take part in it.
When the quarantine began, I came home to Severodonetsk. I received my diploma remotely, it was fun to take the state exams sitting in my kitchen in my pajamas. To be honest, I didn't ever need that diploma afterwards. In Sever, I got to know artists, musicians and various creative people, and so I started doing my own thing — creating embroidery on clothes and customs, I liked it a lot, I bought sewing equipment, and I started to learn this craft by myself. Even now in Lviv, I continue my work - already in a new city and with new strength and inspiration: I sew bags with the coat of arms of my city for my friends and admirers of my work. Such memories of home are very heartwarming now.

What was February 24, 2022 for you like?
Did you believe that a full-scale offensive would begin?Where are you now? What do you do?

What do you think about your future now?

On the third of February, I moved to Kharkiv, got a job at a sewing factory and worked hard there for 12 hours straight. I remember how on shift I dreamed that spring would soon come and my friends and I would be walking along the Kharkiv embankment and drinking matcha. I missed this city and people so much, I haven't been here for almost 2 years.
But on February 24, Putya (t.n. derogatory term for putin) turned everything around. I woke up at six in the morning in Saltivka to go to work and heard explosions. While I was sleeping, it seemed to me that it was not real, but when I got up, I realized how close it was, and saw that people outside the window were fleeing from the city. It became clear that I am not going to work. My boyfriend called me - he was in Sever at that time - and said that the war had started; and a few days ago he was at my place and we talked about it, about the fact that russians would attack in the near future, which literally, fucking happened. The first thing I did after the explosion panic was sitting down to eat the chicken stomachs I had prepared the night before for work. I ate, cried and thought about what I should do and how to act. I understood that I needed strength: I was already physically and emotionally exhausted from work, but I had to collect myself. I packed a bag with things for the upcoming warmer weather, put underwear, food, a book, a photo album and a pepper spray in a backpack (at this time you don’t know who you will have to protect yourself from). Documents, a toothbrush, a charger and all my money - 4,000 UAH were put in my waist bag .
With this luggage, I ran to my friend, who lived with her boyfriend 4 km from me. For Kharkiv, this is a jackpot. Their apartment is big and together it is not so scary, there I would think about how to act further.
This way we spent 10 terrible days under shelling, I did not leave the apartment for two days. I remember watching the news every two minutes almost all day. Conversations with friends and relatives were short, sad and tense. When there was no connection, only messages with the text: "are you alive?" came through.
Parents were serving in Severodonetsk. On the first day, when the russians hit the airport, they were transferred to another city. They had to take my little brothers and leave with them in an unknown direction. They could no longer take me away, since the russians had surrounded the city, all I could do was wait.
When the food supplies ran out, I had to raid my house under fire. Going to the store was not an option, because the queues took 4 hours, which is very life-threatening. We were lucky that my grandmother from Sever gifted me a package from home - lard and nuts: cool, we'll live a little longer.
Airstrikes were the last straw. All these days we ran from the eleventh floor to the first, went down to the basement and hid behind strong (in our opinion) walls, but the understanding that none of this will protect us has already come. There was no electricity, water or heating in the house, it was scary to take a shower and go to the toilet, because there was no air siren - we immediately heard and saw explosions, there were explosions in our yard and in the neighbor's house; we immediately went out and watched four apartments burn. I still didn't know that was nothing compared.
I left on the tenth day. It was scary and difficult to evacuate. My boyfriend was still in Severodonetsk, I didn't want to go without him. When such an opportunity arose, I did not hesitate to go. We had a plan: we both go to Lviv and meet there; it was unclear how we would get there, it was already very difficult to make it to the railway station from Sever, because there was no gas in the city, and you can't even imagine getting a taxi, it didn’t exist anymore. I was lucky: even though no one went to Saltivka anymore and getting from there to the station was the same difficulty level task, I met a taxi driver in my neighborhood and was able to arrange with him to take me to the station at six in the morning the next day, where I could get onto the evacuation train. I waited for it for 5 hours on the platform, stood in the cold and could not feel my feet. Nothing was going to the city of Lev, so I got on the train to Ternopil. I knew it was nearby and it sounded very safe. The train was overcrowded, people were sitting on the floor, children were sleeping on the floor, they were going to the toilet on the coupling, everyone was quarreling and couldn't sleep. The train did not stop. I was on the train for 20 hours, and from there I took a bus to Lviv. Only when I fell asleep on it did I realize that I hadn't slept in 10 days. It wasn’t sleeping, sometimes there were twenty-minute closing of the eyes. I was happy that I was safe. I have never felt such fear in my life as there - under shelling: you have no control over anything and can do nothing, you just want to survive and do everything for that. An acquaintance from my city met me in Lviv. We saw each other once before and this person accepted me into his home - until we would find a place to live. On the same day, my boyfriend also arrived. I was incredibly happy, because we were together, we were alive and in one piece. The first few days I was alarmed walking outside, I was afraid of loud noises. Cool Halychany (t.n. referring to inhabitants of Galicia region, located in southeastern Poland and here referring to western Ukraine) with such an increase in "tourists'' in their city set up very high prices for renting housing, so it was very difficult to find it, but “the world is not without good people'' (t.n. used in speech as a phrase) and the guy we met at the festival helped us find an apartment. Now we were able to take in my brothers - they are 13 and 9 years old, and the parents are at the front. Now we are sort of a young family, it turned out interesting. All our relatives also left for Lviv, we all remained homeless and now Galicia is our home. This is where I work, I bought a new sewing machine and started production at home, I am already receiving orders from friends from the Armed Forces for themed chevrons and T-shirts, a percentage of the profit, of course, will be donated to the Armed Forces, because we do not stand aside, but support, as we can, our state. This is a personal story for me, because my mother is fighting this war.
I hope for an early victory and a bright future for all Ukrainians who understand what is happening. And those rats who are sending me home or to russia - get lost. I don't really miss the city, things and memories, because I am warmed by the thought that all my loved ones are not there, but more or less in safety.

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