Before the war arrived in Ukraine on February 24th, Elena and Gennadiy could not predict how the following weeks and months would unfold. Within days, they lost all electricity, gas, water, and communications. Shops and pharmacies were closed, and access to food was almost nonexistent. Water became a commodity more precious than gold, and they had to resort to drinking melted snow to avoid dehydration. As the hostilities increased, they relocated to an unfinished basement, where the temperature was always below freezing and they had to share living space with rats, sleeping upright with their faces and hands covered to avoid being bitten. Night after night they would slip into a restless sleep, their last waking thoughts dwelling on their children who were on the left bank where the fighting was most intense. Every morning as the sun rose on yet another day in Mariupol, where the air was filled with the sounds of almost constant shelling, they began to fear the worst for their family. Under the relentless attacks, they were able to identify the different types of weapons being used to level the city. As the days stretched into weeks, they adjusted to wearing the same unwashed clothes for a month and being covered in soot from the rudimentary fires they built to stave off hypothermia. They went without food for so long that they no longer felt hungry.
Elena and Gennadiy managed to escape Mariupol with little more than the clothes on their backs, and thanks to the efforts of Slaven and the rest of the Flaming Beacon team, they are now living in an apartment in the relative safety of Dnipro with their daughter and son in law, who miraculously survived. They still face a great deal of uncertainty as do all Ukrainians. No one knows when this war will end, or what further dangers they may face in the meantime. But at least now, with their children close by and the new friends they have made in Dnipro, they know they won’t be facing it alone.
In the face of such unimaginable horror, Elena and Gennadiy have demonstrated the resilience that Ukrainians have become known for. They found themselves flung into an impossible situation and managed to adapt and survive. Hopefully, the day will come soon when they will find peace and return to Ukraine. Until then, people like Elena and Gennadiy need your help. Donations can be made at: