Our "Stories of Resilience" series features families from Pokrovsk, a town just 50 km from the frontline of war. During our monthly humanitarian missions to Pokrovsk, we meet people whose strength and courage shine even in the face of war. We talk to these families about their experiences, daily lives, and hopes. Our first post shares the story of Iryna and her daughter Alina, a young woman who's lived her entire life with cerebral palsy.
Translated from Ukrainian.
- Let's start at the beginning: Can you tell us how the war has affected you and your family since it started on February 24th?
Iryna: Well, we live near this infrastructure object in Pokrovsk, so when the war started, it scared the daylights out of us. Missiles were coming down all over, some of them fell just nearby.
I won't forget the walls shaking, and this one missile flying so low, I thought it will hit our house. The noise was terrifying. For a minute there, I thought it was the end.
My girl Alina, she's got cerebral palsy, and we just couldn't get her meds in Pokrovsk anymore. So we had to pick up and move to Novomoskovsk. Got the meds there the very next day. We stayed for a couple of months, then came back home.
- What's life like for you now, during the war? Are there any specific problems you're dealing with?
It ain't easy, I can tell you that. For a while, we had to go to the next town over to get groceries and meds, because all the stores in Pokrovsk were shut down. It's a bit better now, but the prices are steep.
For instance, Alina needs adult diapers every day, and we go through about three packs a month. A single pack in Pokrovsk costs roughly UAH 900 (USD 25), which means that just diapers alone consume about 30% of my allowance. When you add her special diet and prescription medications to the mix, the expenses mount up quickly.
Before the war, we planned to replace Alina's nearly 30-year-old wheelchair. However, with all the bureaucracy, we couldn't complete the necessary paperwork in time. Now the process is even more challenging.
A special chair that's more comfortable for her would be great, too, but such needs don't seem as important during the war.
Thankfully, we have the support from volunteers and charities. For example, we sometimes receive free diapers, like those from UkraineNow. That's a big help with how expensive everything is in Pokrovsk.
- How about Pokrovsk, what's changed here? How are people handling the war?
Well, there's not as many missiles these days, but they're not gone. Just a little while ago, one hit the mines and, sadly, people were killed. The frontline's still pretty close, so we hear it all the time, but it's not as close as before.
People hear the noise and try to convince themselves it's just thunder. But they know better.
A lot of refugees from the region have come to Pokrovsk. They had it even worse than us. We do what we can to help them out. Some of the locals who left at first have come back. I guess there's no place like home. They want to be with their houses, gardens, yards. We all do. Some people are still waiting for things to calm down before they come back, though.
The water's a big problem. One of the water plants got blown up, so there's no good drinking water. The water we have has manganese in it. It's red, smells bad, and you just can't use it. The town is trying to fix it, but for now, clean water is hard to come by. Some people have made their own wells and filters, but not everyone can afford to do that.
- What would you like to say about the war to people outside Ukraine?
War is dreadful. No one should have to hear bombs going off or live in fear every day. We just want to live in our homes. We didn't ask to be "liberated", like they're saying on the enemy's news.
Ukraine needs help. The enemy's army is huge. At first, we all thought we'd have won by now, like back in January or February. But I believe things will get better.
I was born here, and I'm gonna live here. Why should I leave my home? If it's my time to perish, it will be so, here or somewhere else.
I've seen missiles fly right overhead, explosions throwing debris everywhere. The noise they make is terrifying. But we're on our own land, and we believe in Ukraine.