‘The war will end, I made a wish’: Voices of Kharkiv’s children

KHARKIV, UKRAINE (AFP) – Since the war started two months in the past, Alina, Alex, Daniel, Kiril and Lilia, all aged between eight and 14, have been sleeping in an underground carpark in Kharkiv in jap Ukraine.

As Ukraine’s second-largest metropolis, with almost 1.5 million residents earlier than the war, Kharkiv has confronted a every day barrage of Russian rocket assaults that may happen at any time of day or night time and have a tendency to focus on residential areas close to the entrance line.

In the chilly, damp automobile park the place they’ve been sheltering with their households, the 5 children spoke to AFP in regards to the bombings, their every day life and hopes for peace.

Here are their tales:

‘The war will end soon’: Alina, 9

“On Feb 24, I was actually scared, I was shaking. The first night time we slept on chairs then later our dad and mom introduced beds they usually slept on the chairs.

“I began crying a lot: every time there have been bombings or sirens I was actually nervous about my household and mates who left, and my grandma who left her village close to the Russian border.

“I don’t wish to depart as a result of it’s my city. I was born right here.

“In the morning, we do classes on-line, within the afternoon I do homework and at night time we come right here.

“I miss my kickboxing coaching and dance lessons.

“Victory would make me very completely happy. The war received’t finish immediately however it will in a few weeks, I made a want.

“It was my birthday on Feb 25. My dad and mom wished to go residence to prepare dinner one thing for me however there have been bombardments. I was anxious and trembling, it was my birthday and the second day of the war and we couldn’t have fun.

“I hope I can celebrate my next birthday with fireworks but not like these (bombs).”

‘I still don’t get it’: Alex, 14

“At the beginning, somebody known as my dad and instructed us to go away however my dad didn’t wish to, he stated we’d keep in Kharkiv.

“The first week was scary. Afterwards we received used to it. The first day we stayed residence and listened to the information. Then my dad and mom noticed individuals coming down right here so we got here as properly, we introduced a desk and chairs to make use of as beds.

“At first, there have been masses of individuals and also you couldn’t transfer. But later, half of them left though some are coming again now.

“I miss my mates, faculty, my kickboxing lessons.

“In the week, I go residence within the morning to do my homework then come again right here for lunch and to play video games with playing cards or on my cellphone.

“Our parents don’t tell us much about the war. We know missiles are hitting buildings and playgrounds… But I still don’t really get what’s happening, nor why. I only know people are dying.”

‘I thought it would end quickly’: Daniel, 13

“I was actually nervous when it began. I didn’t hear the primary assaults. My mum woke me up and stated: ‘Son, the war has started.’

“I had no concept what we had been going to do, if we would go away or if there was even a bomb shelter… I didn’t actually perceive what was occurring, I thought it could finish the subsequent day. Later I realised it wouldn’t.

“When we received down right here, there have been too many individuals, I assume the entire neighbourhood got here. The first few days we slept on cardboard bins.

“Normally I get up, eat breakfast, play with my mates and depart the bunker (underground carpark) for a whereas.

“We examine on Zoom and do our homework on-line.

“I hope peace will include no extra explosions or sirens… Victory will be when I get up and my mum tells me ‘Son, it’s over’.

‘No one should fight’: Kiril, 13

“(On Feb 24), I awakened and thought there have been fireworks. I known as my mates to search out out what was occurring and everybody was panicking. My mum works in a hospital they usually known as her in.

“I got here right here with a buddy however it was closed. But later I got here again with my dad and mom. It was utterly darkish and filthy. The subsequent day, individuals introduced sofas and made it extra comfy.

“I thought it could be over in a week however it’s been two months.

“Many persons are afraid however I’m not, I attempt to assist everybody. I know everybody right here so I wish to be good.

“Obviously we wish to stay in peace, no-one ought to battle. One day, it will be over.

‘I want to breathe fresh air’: Lilia, 8

“My mum awakened when my grandma known as her and instructed her, ‘The Russians have started shooting’. I heard that and was actually frightened, I cried.

“We went to my grandma’s home then we heard individuals had been going to the bunker, so we joined them. There had been 200 individuals on the primary day, it was actually chilly… We have slept right here because the first day.

“We breathe in a lot of mud. I don’t like that, I’d wish to breathe recent air.

“Before I was taking dance lessons and studying determine skating however not any extra.

“For me, the end of the war will be when me and (my older brother and sister) Alex and Alina can celebrate our birthdays… we’ll have barbecues and everyone will be with us.”

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