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A team of journalists from The New York Times

Story and photo: Natalia Yermak

Illustration: #JuliaTveritina


Before the full-scale war, Natalia was working for a Ukrainian cartoon series for children called Brave Bunnies. This is the story of a family of bunnies that goes on a road trip, meets other animals and learns something new from each encounter. Then, Natalia had no idea that a journey was waiting for her too, and she had to be as brave as possible.

After February 24, 2022, the production of the cartoon series was put on hold, and Natalia got an opportunity to join the team of journalists of The New York Times. Together with reporter Thomas, photographer Tyler, security adviser John and driver Dima, Natalia went to Huliaipole. This is a city in Zaporizhzhia Oblast, which the Russians have been trying to capture for several months. Before the full-scale war, 13,000 people lived there, but only about 2,000 remained after the invasion. The journalists came to record what life looks like in a city under constant bombing.

Natalia had to communicate with residents, soldiers and medics, collect personal stories and translate them from Ukrainian or Russian into English. Already on the first night in Huliaipole, the journalist couldn’t sleep because of the bombing — the sounds were so frightening that it was impossible to control the shaking of her body. However, within a few weeks of being in the front-line city, Natalia got used to the soundtrack of war, to the whistling of rockets and subsequent explosions a hundred meters away.

Strength is also needed to listen to personal stories or to see a local woman recognizing the remains of her brother's body, killed by the Russians. Natalia had to see and experience many horrors of war in order to help the world learn the truth about Russia. Nevertheless, she was supported by the courage of the people she met in the city, which the Russians are stubbornly trying to destroy.


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