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  • Mary Mykhailenko

Liberated from Belligerent Occupation: Our Trip to Regions of Kyiv

We received an urgent request from the Armed Forces of Ukraine to deliver food to villages no longer occupied by Russian forces in regions of Kyiv. In order to complete this task within 24-hours, we collected several tons of food and supplies from our warehouses and citizens willing to donate and volunteer. We loaded everything we could into our transport vehicle, including potatoes, cereal, canned goods, bread and hygiene products, and departed as soon as we could.

As we drove north, we saw images of ruin that will stay with us forever. Burned cars. Demolished homes. Decimated infrastructure. Butchered landscape.

Places where people once waited for spring were replaced with terrible scenes: Bridges that once sheltered surviving Ukranians now reduced to rubble; a garage filled with memories and possessions left behind; demolished homes with a surviving facade preserving the symbol of life that it once sheltered; cars with families and children who did not make it out in time. Even signs of Ukraine’s resilience, flowers growing under the rubble of someone’s home, casted a hollowed hush.

These experiences were more than echoes of silence; the vibrations of murder and destruction persisted. Our people, land, and homes were littered with the lasting impact of evil. The sound of our losses rang clear along with the undertones of our personal and collective mortality. You’ve seen pictures but the ownership and first-hand experience lies outside of words.

Our first stop was the village of Moshchun.

The population has now reached about 50 people. We left food and basic needs in the destroyed center of the village, which was once a place filled with children’s music where they used to host concerts. I was still able to access the second floor where I found a hive of bees between the walls and ceiling, diligently caring for themselves and producing honey.

This all reminded me of my trip to Chernobyl, where, after 36 years, nature has overtaken the destroyed and abandoned homes. But this is different. Two months ago there was life in Moshchun. It now lies completely destroyed with no regard for mercy toward civilians, and more terrifyingly, children. Why? Just because they wanted to.

Out of the abandoned animals, we only saw a cat who eventually came to us. He was very afraid but we managed to feed him.

After that we drove on, stopping at military locations leaving food where a lot of abandoned pets found shelter with our men, as well. Altruistic Ukrainian military care for them and share their food.

Our last drop-off was located at a church in Borodyanka. Next to it was a building that was blown-in-half by rockets and destroyed homes where windows are now black holes. There were many people who came to us for clothes and food. I saw too many children who have grown up before their time, becoming adults too quickly because there was no other option. Their childhood was stolen from them on the 24th of February and they will be our nation’s future.

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