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A volunteer in Makariv

Story and photo: Anastasiia Kharuk

Illustration: #OlehGryshchenko


When Anastasiia's family woke up from the explosions on February 24, they decided to leave Kyiv and go to their country house in Makariv. At that time, many people thought it was safer outside the city during the war. However, Makariv was not lucky: this village is located in Bucha Raion (Kyiv Oblast) and was partially occupied and heavily shelled in the first weeks of the full-scale Russian invasion.

Anastasiia came there with her husband, two six-year-old daughters, parents, a cat and two huskies. It was cold in the house (5 °C in the basement), and the light and communication quickly disappeared. Together with Anastasiia's family, their neighbors were hiding from the explosions in the house, so a total of 11 people and four animals gathered at the cottage. It was warmer that way; they managed to heat the room up to 16 °C. They could hear the movement of columns of military equipment from the street; a gyrodyne with the letter V flew over the house and fired at the streets. The explosions were getting closer and closer, but without communication, Anastasiia didn't know the news. In the end, she and her husband went to the village center, where they learned about the evacuation from Makariv. Two days after Anastasiia's family went to their friends in a nearby village, a shell flew into their neighbours' house.

Anastasiia returned to her native Makariv in April, when Kyiv Oblast was liberated from Russian troops. Miraculously, their house survived. There were ruins all around, the smell of fire was in the air, and people were crying in despair. There were many hungry and frightened pets running through the streets. So Anastasiia realized she had to stream all her energy into helping others. At first, she decided to find food for animals. The woman travelled around the village and fed dogs and cats. People also lacked basic things: food, blankets, and warm clothes. Friends helped Anastasiia to find humanitarian aid, and gradually Anastasiia's small summer house turned into a real warehouse of humanitarian aid. Dishes, irons, multicookers, bed linen, diapers, medicines, hygiene items, scooters, clothes, shoes, toys, refrigerators and washing machines—the volunteer received all these for the residents of Makariv.

Now Anastasiia spends whole days rummaging around in boxes with humanitarian aid, which are already towering above the woman, and delivers aid on her minibus. Friends help her with the search for funds and benefactors, fuel and distribution. It is also difficult psychologically: many people lost their relatives and homes. However, Anastasiia is sure that she should volunteer as long as the Armed Forces of Ukraine is fighting for Ukrainian lives.


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