01.    Tamara (Kherson)

In June 2023 the Kakhovka dam in Kherson province was destroyed. Since the start of the war, my family had been clinging to the hope that somehow this nightmare would suddenly end. But now we knew things had changed forever. My childhood home was completely submerged by water.

Back in February 2022, we lived in Kherson city. I’m a nurse, my husband’s a policeman. We could give our son a good life and we hoped to have a second child. But at 4am on the 24th, the war started for us when my husband got an emergency callout. As we were parting, I looked out of the window and saw the bombs start to fall on Chornobaivka Airport. We didn’t know if we’d see each other again. The city was gripped by panic. 

Soon the atrocities began. My friend tried to escape with her children and was shot in her car. And on the 1st of March thousands of Russians entered Kherson. They spread from street to street like cockroaches. We lived in terror, afraid to even go to the window, not knowing what tomorrow would bring. Or if tomorrow would come.

Meanwhile my husband was in Ukrainian-held territory, cursing himself for leaving us. But the city was surrounded, all roads back were cut off. He decided to risk returning on foot, through the fields. He found some civilian clothes and called his sister to tell her his route – he wanted us to know where to look for him if the worst happened. I was queuing to buy cat food when I saw him again…

After two months under occupation, we decided we had to get out. They made us travel as human shields. We drove through minefields, past machine guns and tanks... When we reached Mykolaiv and saw Ukrainian soldiers, we wept with happiness. 

Kherson was liberated after nine months. My husband’s gone back to work, and my mum’s working at the hospital – but now the city gets shelled around the clock. It’s really an unbearable situation. But they believe in the future. We all believe in our victory. I know my Nezlamna story will end with Ukraine’s victory!


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