Riding in Peter’s van today,on our way to villages around Kyiv.
Key highway signs are scraped off, painted over, removed, or misleading. Local knowledge is crucial here. There are imprints on the highway of tanks that have passed on their way to defend Kyiv from Russia.
Signs of tank battle all along the road now. Destroyed homes and factories.
Home visit. Olia, her husband died of Covid just before the war started, she survived Covid to come home so weak and tired to find Russians taking over her home. During the siege on this village, five Russian soldiers took over her home, stole her bedding and moved into her root cellar. They took anything they wanted, they stole a Stove and firewood for the cellar. Power was knocked out so no one had heat or light for 42 days. They had a satellite dish for communication and stood guard over it, threatening with guns anyone who would tell it was there. There was also a sniper living in her attic room and soldiers coming and going.
She tried to rescue a neighbor out of her destroyed home, Russians shot her through the arm. She is thankful to be alive. Hearing is damaged from the sound of tank battle and guns.
She has cleaned up her home and garden and repaired and is going on. She cries so much these days. She took all the bits and pieces the Russians left behind and created a Russian scarecrow so they never come back.
Russians would point tanks at homes to scare. Pro Russians would provide coordinates of pro Ukrainians and they would roll up and blow up the house. Neighbors telling on neighbors. The second war. How do you recover from that.
30 local men killed in the first days, then many taken to Russia. The mayor died of a heart attack during the occupation which lasted forty two days. The Ukrainian army took 3 days to clear out the Russians although some lived in the forest for months after the de occupation
Bucha is a beautiful prosperous city, modern architecture, hard to imagine the atrocities that happened here. We did not stop.
Moshchun village. Presented 200 bags here. People were so grateful.
326 soldiers died in the village during occupation. The firemen in the community were tasked with gathering the dead soldiers and community members, the deaths were so terrible and gruesome from the shrapnel in the bombs that several of the firefighters died of heart failure, picking up bags of body pieces. Some people were reduced to ash, there was nothing to recover from the phosphorus bombs.
The front of the building where we met was freshly repaired and painted. The stairs were full of bullet holes. The fence across the street is being repaired piece by piece and others are painting flowers around the bullet holes to redeem the hatred and destruction.
Lunch (5:00) at one of the women’s homes, her beautiful home was blown up and burned by a phosphorus bomb, while her log sauna nearby was unscathed. She praises God for the gift of her little home as she has moved in and outfitted it for the next months as they begin to rebuild. She has a prosperous transport business and kept all her money in a safe in the home. It was burned up and now she has nothing. But she will begin again.
This evening we had chai (tea) at another home, 7 daughters and a son. When the parents heard the Russians had landed in their area and were on the loose they prayed for direction from God, they heard, and then piled in the car and fled, getting to the bridge 10 minutes before the Ukrainian army blew it up. They ended up at misha and Tonya’s house. There are Chechnyans in the Russian army and they are majorly the ones raping and torturing. Whenever they find a disabled person they torture, experiment, and kill.
Forest and field are full of mines which were dropped by plane, helicopter or fired from guns.
The resilience and determination here to win and recover is admirable. One year in there is much physical recovery and repair in individuals homes. Power is restored. Support for the Ukrainian forces is strong, they sacrifice regularly to support their husbands and sons. We had garden tools for the community and they agreed that all the shovels should go to the east to the men fighting there to rescue those people from going through what these communities are surviving. There is a war here.