Recently, Michael and I met a woman on our island who is from Ukraine. I asked Valeriya to share her personal story with you because it is true, real, and different from the news. Her story comes from a really beautiful woman who currently lives in Warsaw, Poland. These are Valeriya Demchenko‘s words:
24 Feb 2022 the world became ‘black’ and ‘white’ for hundreds of millions of people. No doubts or explanations. Pure Evil exists. This evil right now wipes my beloved country off the face of the Earth. There are things that you cannot imagine, and this is one of them.
My beloved Kharkiv, where I spent 4 years in University is almost totally destroyed. My friends are scared to death, sitting in basements with tiny children in their arms. They do not post insta stories with kids on playgrounds. They are screaming for help in stories from basements, undergrounds that quickly run out of diapers, infant formulas, and medication. I’m reading, I wish I could pass them the entire pharmacy… but I can’t….
My native town where my mother is right now is Heroic already. It’s all over the news. Now it’s a polygon for vacuum bombs which are strictly forbidden by the Geneva convention. Yesterday the combined heat & power plant of the entire town was destroyed. Many people died. The whole town is without heat; the temperature is still minus outside. Evacuation is suicide; there are no green corridors. People are shot right in their cars on the road.
It’s a terrible time for me personally. The first few days it was absolutely impossible to calm me down. I felt pure anger, rage, and hate. I couldn’t stop crying, nor could I sleep. Then I’ve found out that rage is a helpful feeling since it enables me to direct my ‘helplessness’ to help others.
Of course, I’m safe & sound, sitting in a warm apartment in Warsaw, Poland, while my mother is at gunpoint every second. I’ve never experienced ‘survivor’s guilt’ until now when I am consumed by it.
These days I’m living with my phone in my hand. I’m spending time writing to my family and friends in our circle to find out how they are, providing some mental support, searching for the latest information on evacuation & humanitarian aid. Meanwhile, I need to work, maintain physical and mental health, remain cold-blooded to support others.
If you can imagine the cruelest video game, filled with evil shooters killing anyone and everyone… this is the reality of my country right now. Enemies are our ‘brothers.’ I have relatives in Russia as well, like every Ukrainian. Most of us did not even receive a call from them. Quiet submission from ‘brothers’…. They’re afraid of police batons while Ukrainians are not afraid anymore of their incessant bombs.
Ukraine is fighting not for themselves. They fight to avoid World War 3. If any bullet falls on nearby Poland, even accidently, NATO has to react. No one knows how this will end… That’s why the whole world has a sacred and terrifying duty to help our soldiers, our people, and our children. My country is now suffering for the entire world. Every single person from grandma to babies are in basements untill heads of countries are doing amazing things to save anything that we have left.
The world is responding with such generosity that I have never witnessed. I’m crying while walking down Polish streets. Every corner asks for help: volunteers, donations, supplies, aid workers… everyone, literally everyone is involved. There is no person who knows me who didn’t reach out offering help. The internet is in the colors of my Ukrainian national flag. All caring people stand together. Having the same global perspective. The Coronavirus crisis divided the world in so many ways. This war unites us back together.
The main message is this: “Amid all of this bloodshed, Ukraine will win! We are winning already! The price is unthinkably high. Reality is as cruel as it is possible, however, when you know the truth, motivated to protect yourself, know what you must fight for, there are no more unreachable goals. I’m anticipating rebuilding my country. We will build a great future. Now we just need to survive!”