Maryna arrived in Kharkiv with four children and two suitcases. She fled her hometown of Debaltseve when the shelling was constant. The Ukrainian fighters who she was helping feed advised her to leave.
“My husband and I were on the brink of getting divorced. There was no certainty about what would happen the next day. The shelling was so intense that you just wanted to throw yourself under a car, you felt like committing suicide,” Maryna recounted.
The shelling has also profoundly affected their children. One of Maryna’s children, Zhenia, is currently receiving treatment for heart problems in a Kharkiv hospital. According to the doctor, his condition, like the other children there, is a result of stress.
Maryna’s husband Serhii left for Kharkiv first to look for work with the intention of bringing his family later. Serhii quickly found work on the railways but finding somewhere to live on the other hand was a real problem. At first the couple rented a one-room apartment but the money would not stretch far enough. They barely had enough money to feed their children. In the end their landlord evicted them from the property.
Maryna asked for help from Station Kharkiv, a volunteer assistance center for internally displaced persons located at Kharkiv railway station. The volunteers managed to arrange temporary accommodation for the family in a room at summer resort nearby which was taking in displaced people.
The whole family of 6 now lives in one room. “The toilet is in the neighboring building, water is in the neighboring building. We're really starting from zero: no cups, no spoons,” Serhii told Hromadske.
The family can only stay there for six months. After that it’s not clear what will happen.
As at the 23 March 2015 the UN estimated that there are 1,178,000 IDPs in Ukraine. For several months a team of Hromadske traveled around Ukraine, from Sloviansk to Lviv, in search of stories of those who were left without their homes because of the war and the annexation. This the fourth story of part 1 of the Displaced series, a project about the lives of internally displaced persons in Ukraine from the Donbas region and Crimea.
// Hromadske with the support of the Thomson Foundation. Filmed in February, 2015.