“I remember I heard a whistle and I knew what was going to happen next,” says Natasha living few kilometres from the Ukrainian frontline

Natasha is now building new kitchen, toilet and bathroom thanks to People in Need and ECHO. (Photo: Roman Lunin, People in Need)

It was June 9, 2015, about 4 p.m. Natasha (34) and her son were in the house in village of Lastoshkino, approximately 5 kilometres distant from the frontline. Her husband was working and she was lying on the bed watching TV and Stars, her son playing videogames in his room. “I remember that I heard a whistle and I knew what was going to happen next. We fell on the floor trying to hide. I saw the ceiling falling on us. It was a direct hit. Bathroom, toilet, kitchen, everything was destroyed. We climbed out of a window and ran to the basement. Thanks God we are still alive — it is the most important thing,” says Natasha and introduces us her son, a 14 years old schoolboy sitting on the chair under a tree.

Natasha’s friends came to her house to look for her and her boy later on. They took them away from their still smoking house. While driving away, Natasha’s son was trying to comfort his mom. “He told me: “Don’t worry mom. Everything is going to be fine.” I knew that it was me who was supposed to calm my son down but I did not understand anything at that moment,” Natasha recalls.

People in Need is delivering bricks as well as cement to repair house. (Photo: Petr Stefan, People in Need)
We don’t hide in the basement anymore: there is a time gap between the shelling starts and when you are safe in the basement. This is the time gap while you might be killed.

Natasha and her family moved to Lastochkino from Avdeevka in the middle of 2013. “It took us right one year to build this house,” Natasha says. “And as soon as we had completed it, the war started.” The evening after the shelling Natasha came back to what used to be her home and started to clean up the ruins. There was not much left: half of the roof was missing, all the appliances, kitchen utensils and all their belongings were destroyed.

Every night I can hear a strong shelling

Today Natasha and her family live in the next street with their relatives. They can hear strong shelling every night. “The day before yesterday my husband was working, just like when it happened. We could not sleep at all. It was so loud that the chandelier was shaking. But as long as you don’t hear the whistle you are safe, Natasha says and adds that her mother always forced them to go to the basement overnight. She died from a heart attack six months ago. We don’t hide in the basement anymore: there is a time gap between the shelling starts and when you are safe in the basement. This is the time gap while you might be killed, Natasha says.

Son of Natasha. (Photo: Maria Lozan, People in Need)
“The day before yesterday my husband was working, just like when it happened. We could not sleep at all. It was so loud that the chandelier was shaking. But as long as you don’t hear the whistle you are safe.

“What I worry most about is my son and how he goes through it. He has problems with his eyes and stomach currently because of the stress he has suffered from. I do hope this war ends up soon and we can live here in peace again,” says Natasha. Victor, Natasha’s husband, works at the Avdeevka Coke Factory. They were both employed in Donetsk before the war. “I am looking for some job here because we can hardly make a living from what my husband earns and now we need to equip Stas so that he can go back to school again. He will start the eighth grade now,” says Natasha.

People in Need together with European Commission Humanitarian Aid & Civil Protection department (ECHO) are helping Natasha’s family to rebuild their house. We have already repaired the roof and now we are helping to rebuild the front of the house with the bathroom, toilet and kitchen. Soon they will be able to move back to their house.

Maria Lozan, Communication Officer, People in Need Ukraine