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Roman Kamenda

Mariupol

Rivne

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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, I studied in the 11th grade. I remember that the most terrible day in Mariupol was May 9. I will say right away, then I did not quite understand who was on which side, but I did then, for the first time in my life, saw people getting killed. And to see the center of my city covered in blood is not something I would like to see before my final exams. Then, I remember, the so-called "DPR" seized power in Mariupol for 3 weeks. All thanks to the large number of traitors in the local government. But in almost one day they were driven out of the city by the newly created Azov battalion and UAF units.
Then, all summer long, my friends and I watched what was happening in Donetsk and the surrounding areas of our city. I lived in the farthest district of Mariupol, further - only a few villages and the border with the russian federation. In 2014, we sometimes woke up at night from mortar fire directed at the checkpoint, which was located 1 km from my house.
Then I heard the whistling of shells for the first time in my life. I remember that I was very afraid of them. By the end of 2014, the fighting shifted mainly to the Donetsk direction.
On January 23, 2015, we gathered at my house with friends. We woke up on the morning of January 24, there was no electricity, gas, or water. But later we heard a volley of “grad”. We didn't even think about the possibility of it flying in our direction. At the moment of the first explosion, we all fell to the floor and began to move into the corridor. It was very scary and very long (it seemed so, because at such moments time goes very slowly). After the shelling, we quickly packed our things and went to my mother's house, she was also in Skhidny (our neighborhood). That’s how I came under fire for the first time.

"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.

After 2015, we even started to forget what shots and explosions are.
I went to get a higher education, at the same time I worked as a waiter, bartender in a night club. It was then that I became interested in DJing and in 2016 I performed at a party for the first time. Life was improving. Mariupol was also changing! It was happening right in front of my eyes. The summer of 2017 - so far - was the best one in my life! Then my friends and I started throwing very cool parties, where 200-300 people came (for Mariupol, this is a lot). Also, something amazing happened that summer. The first MRPL city festival was held in Mariupol, the line-up of which was incredible!
My friends and I thought it was a fake for a long time. Because nothing like this has ever happened in Mariupol! But we bought tickets and saw that it was true! The sea, the beach, favorite artists and DJs, it seemed that we were in Kyiv on Atlas, but it was Mariupol! Since then such a festival was held every summer. In 2019, I decided to go to Kyiv. I was very lucky with employment, I started working in a bar that I had only seen through Instagram before. I also managed to perform several times there as a DJ. But in 2020, I was forced to go home because the whole world got gripped by a pandemic. After the quarantine, I found a job, thanks to which I traveled a lot in Ukraine. I spent a lot of time in Odesa, Zaporizhzhia and Kharkiv. But later Ireturned to Mariupol. During this time it became very comfortable and beautiful, so I decided to stay there. 2021 was incredible, we organized a lot of events, and a lot of cool establishments opened. Eventually, I started playing music in them and making a living doing what I love.

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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 February 23, I played a set in a bar. After that, my friends and I went to the afterparty. Around 3 in the morning, my mother called me and told me not to go home under any circumstances because there were very loud explosions. No one in the city believed that everything would happen as it did. So, I went home. I read the news on February 24, and around 12:00 we were already packing and thinking about where to go next. We decided to walk by foor to our relatives who lived on the first floor, because they had a storage room. After 5 minutes, I heard the whistle of "grad" in the sky and immediately fell to the ground (into a puddle, to be honest, but it didn't matter), and my mother ran to the nearest school. This time we got lucky - it flew literally 200 meters from us. We quickly picked up our things and continued on our way. We stayed with relatives for the next three days. We never imagined such strong shelling. Therefore, on the morning of the fourth day, we waited for a break and went to the seaside district of our city, wjere we had a free apartment. At that time, the city had not yet been encircled, so we thought it would be safer there. A few days later, real hell began...
First, the light was turned off along with the connection, a day later - water supply, after 2 days - gas... We were almost out of food. The first thing that ended was the meat. Then we caught several pigeons. Broth was boiled, meat made into porridge.
Our friends tried to leave several times, but all in vain, the shelling were very hard. On March 14, we first saw a convoy of cars with white flags and the words "Children".
On March 15, this column knew no end. People under fire stood in a traffic jam several kilometers long. Our nerves could not stand it, and on the morning of March 16, we set off and reached Zaporizhzhia in 14 hours (usually this journey takes 3-4 hours). Now I am in Kyiv, my relatives are in Slovenia and Austria. We are very lucky that we are all intact. From the very first day of my stay in Kyiv, friends helped me find work. As long as the war is going on, I cannot predict my future, but I am trying to do something about that.

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