The war in Ukraine has continued to rage for over six months, causing millions of people to flee their homes in a desperate attempt to escape death and injuries. Many people have lost their family members and are traumatised by the war – either physically and/or emotionally.
Mental health needs are enormous and addressing them is a priority for our teams. Below are testimonies from our patients who have been directly impacted by the fighting and whose stories illustrate the devastation caused by the war.
Yevhenia is from a village in the Kherson region, now under Russian military control. She now lives in a centre for displaced people in the Dnipropetrovsk region.
“When the Russian soldiers came to our yard, we were in the basement. They told us to come outside, checked our documents and then sent us back to the basement. Then they moved into our house and started living there.
When the Ukrainian soldiers entered our village, they asked if anyone wanted to leave. On the same day, we went to Kryvyi Rih. We have friends here who sheltered us, there were 14 people living in their house, including us.
“Later on we asked for a place to stay at the displacement shelter; we had been sleeping on the floor at our friends' house, and my husband was recovering from surgery.
He had been shot in the back when we were still at home. After being shot, he stayed in the basement for a month and a half without treatment or medicine – we had nothing. Everything was destroyed.
On 3 April we found out that my son had died. They told us that his body was in a morgue in Kryvyi Rih and now we have buried him.
We are recovering, but we can’t forget what we went through. We have no home now, it was destroyed. But we still want to return and rebuild our village. We thank this city for sheltering us. But home is home.”
Alla was displaced from her village in the Kherson region after the war began.
When the war began, Kherson was taken under Russian military control. After several attempts, Alla finally escaped from Kherson, and now lives in a displaced people's centre in the Dnipropetrovsk region.
“There was shelling every minute, every second – day and night. Every missile was a roll of the dice, they hit places randomly and people died. I knew so many people who died, including my friend.
My mother and I used to shelter in the basement. But the basement is so deep, and my mother is 86… it wasn’t easy. The first time we tried to leave home, we travelled with our neighbours by car but we were turned back at a checkpoint. We were not allowed to leave.
“I left my mother at the checkpoint, and went home to get my bicycle so my mother could lean on it while she walked. This made it easier for us to reach another checkpoint, but once again we were turned back.
My mother got on the bicycle and I started to wheel her home, but then we met another woman who told us that it was finally possible to pass the checkpoints.
It was still so hard to leave home. We didn’t reach the displacement shelter and dormitory until midnight. We’re here now but we still want to go home. Everything is destroyed there, but even if it’s just rubble, it’s still our home.”
Tetiana was displaced from her village in the Kherson region. Now she lives in a displaced people's centre in the Dnipropetrovsk region.
“I lived, worked my whole career, and retired in the same village. We were preparing to get older, we wanted to live in comfort.
Then, on 27 March, there was shelling and we were forced to leave our home. I didn't want to hide in the basement, because I was afraid that the house would collapse on us.
“We have an outhouse that we use as a kitchen in summer. The walls there are thick, and I felt we would be safer there. There was shelling through the night, and we stayed in the outhouse. When morning came, I realised I just couldn't do that anymore, so we decided to travel to Nikopol.
We were staying in Nikopol but my husband had to return home to work. I decided to go with him.
It was Easter when our house was destroyed. Our friends told us to come and stay in their house… but as soon as we got there, the shelling began.
We stayed there for several days, after that I could not do it anymore. My husband stayed in the village, and I arrived in the city of Kryvyi Rih on 19 July.
My granddaughter is seven years old. She talks about building new things to comfort me. When we ask what her greatest wish is, she says, ‘I want to have my own home.’”