Today, we spoke with Olenha an amazing lady from Ukraine is among many who inspire us. She shared her family’s story during the early days of the war living in Mariupol. It is shocking, saddening and heartbreaking to picture her family’s plight.
Alyona is a working woman who lived in Mariupol with her disabled mother and her elder sister. In late February, Alyona had to move away for work and her sister chose to stay back and look after their mother.
Since the war broke out Ukraine has been in chaos. Losing communication with the outside world, and electricity would make it a black hole on earth. Mariupol was one such black hole for our Alyona and her family was stuck in it during the early days of the war.
At Mariupol, Alyona’s sister and mother were fortunate enough to be in a relatively safer district during the outbreak until the Russians chose to attack from the skies and the sea. The howling jets and distant warships attacking them at their homes made them lock themselves in their homes out of fear. Once in a while when they get a signal and electricity to charge their device, they would let Alyona know about their situation. Too afraid to miss their calls, Alyona never left her phone and prayed for their safety.
By early March heating, and water supply was also lost to the war. The temperatures were freezing -10 degrees Celsius, and to keep her mom warm Alyona’s sister boiled water on the fire and fill bottles with the warm water and place them near their mother.
During air raids, Alyona’s family and her neighbors would get out of their apartment flats and gather together on the corridor floors. Food shortage was met by the neighborhood’s communal kitchens set up in the streets and by sharing rations amongst themselves. Shops were being looted out of desperation. Some store owners would leave their contact details on the shop doors to let people call and pay. Due to constant shooting and fighting, humanitarian aid had a hard time reaching Mariupol.
Most cars and vehicles were either destroyed in the attacks or were broken into. So, most people that got out were the ones who walked miles to get to safety. Alyona’s sister took her mother in a wheelchair and chose to walk them to safety. She suffered a treacherous journey having to walk on broken roads, and shattered pavements.
On the way, a young soldier helped them find safe passage to the village of Mangush. From there they left for Berdyanksk where they lived for several days. The lack of means for transportation and broken roads made it more difficult to move farther away from the fight. Yet fortune favored the bold and they found a means to get to Zaporizhia, then to Kropyvnystkyi, and to safety.
Here at Flaming Beacon, we chose to act and provide Ukraine’s children with everything we are capable of. And we are proud to let you know that Alyona and her family are safe in one of the accommodations provided and managed by us. Thanks to our kind donors who made our ongoing housing project in Dnipro successful by helping us rent 4 apartments for refugees. Alyona reached out to express her gratitude toward you.