Personal Stories from Evacuees on the 9/16/2022 Bus

A woman from Mariupol

We spent a month in the basement of a house as our city was bombed. There were 21 people crammed in that basement. Some of them were elderly and children. 4 people died during that month. We buried them in the shell holes right near the house. We couldn’t even dig a grave because of constant shelling. I watched my home being destroyed. During all that time we had no contact with anyone outside our city. Our phones were dead; we couldn’t get any news about what was going on. Did Kyiv fall? Was Ukraine occupied by Russia? We could only guess. After some time volunteers were able to enter the city and help with the evacuations of civilians. At first we went to Berdyansk, which was also occupied by Russia. Evacuation busses picked up people outside the city, but that meant that me and my elderly parents would have to walk out of the city and if we don’t get on that bus we would have to walk same distance back. There weren’t many bussed coming to evacuate people since this region was still a war zone. Fortunately, we found someone who had a car and he helped us to get to the bus. That’s how we got to Zaporizzhya. There was constant lack of food and water. We all had to share little supplies that we had.
The group leader asked what was the most difficult experience?
Woman answered: while we were in the basement, we tried to keep calendar making marks on the wall but eventually we weren’t even sure what day it was anymore. In between bombings we tried to run home and get some food and water. When someone died you couldn’t even move the body, you had to step over them to help those who are still alive. Even when bombing stopped and for a brief time there was silence, we were afraid of that silence. There was always a feeling that it was a silence before next bombing.

A man from Kherson
It was very difficult to leave Kherson, we had to pass through 42 check points. At every checkpoint Russians checked our documents. At about 20-25 checkpoints all men had to step out of the bus, line up and undress. They were looking at our tattoos, checked if there are marks from the body armor or any other marks that someone who served in the military might have. At some check points everyone had to line up in front of the bus, even elderly people and children. Russians would check our documents and every time we were warned that should anyone try to do something suspicious they will shoot without a warning. After we passed number of checkpoints (after about 3 hours on the road), we reached village Vasylivka the person in charge told us that check point is closed for today. They aren’t letting any busses through. We had to go back and go through all the checks on every checkpoint again. Some russian soldiers would ridicule us, when they saw that we’re coming back. Next day we tried again and we were able to pass all checkpoints. This time they were telling us that it is safer to stay, that once we get to the regions controlled by Ukraine all men will be forced to join the army. When we left Vasylivka, which was considered a gray area between Russian and Ukrainian controlled territories, we were instructed by russian soldiers that the cars should go in column, all with the same speed and no one should stop. If anyone deviates from these rules they will fire. That’s how we escaped Kherson.

A woman from Kharkiv.
My name is Anna, I spent two months in subway station in Kharkiv. We had to leave after we ran out of food. At first local restaurants shared their food supplies with us, then our volunteers would search for the food in the city. As situation got worse were forced to leave the city in April. Our city was still being bombed, while we were leaving.

My name is Serhii. When we were leaving territories occupied by russia those orcs (that’s how we call russian soldiers) were calling us traitors, saying that they came to liberate us and now we’re leaving the liberated cities.
Group leader asked: how difficult it was get out the Russian occupation?
Serhii answered with irony: it wasn’t too bad, it took us only 5 days to go 250 km.
Group leader asked: were you able to get any food?
Serhii answered: we only had what we took with us.
Group leader asked: did anyone get sick during that evacuation.
Sehii answered: of course, it took 5 days to get from Berdyansk to Zaporizzhya and we had through 15-17 checkpoints

A woman from Mykolaiv:

My name is Antonina, I came here with my daughter. We’re from Mykolaiv. Our city endured heavy shelling. We moved to bomb shelter when the war started. The situation with food and water was dire. People from other cities were trying to help Mykolaiv but still it wasn’t enough. When the situation became unbearable we had to leave.

Please help us rescue others like these brave people.

One response to “Personal Stories from Evacuees on the 9/16/2022 Bus”

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