by SERGEY RATIYEV, January 2015

Nobody could imagine that the war would come to us. Or what is more, that the war would come from the Russians. We used to have such friendly relationships that it made no difference to be Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian or Armenian. We have such a complex mix of nationalities in the Donbas region that had always been difficult to find out who was who. And now…

We thought it was some kind of political show when the local authorities left the town council buildings and the crowds of people began assaulting the building. We thought they would make some noise and then go home. But they didn’t allow the local officials to get back and instead through out the mayor when he tried to enter the building. When people with guns appeared in the streets, it became clear that it wasn’t a demonstration anymore.

Then they began looting and robbing cash machines. They stole all the expensive cars from the automobile showrooms and constructed barricades with the help of tires on the roads. It became complete anarchy! There was neither police, nor authorities nor communal services… No one! We could not understand anything.


We didn’t plan on leaving town. Where would we go? We have our house and job here, three children and elderly parents… My mother-in-law is paralyzed. How could it be possible to abandon everything and leave? But the situation in the spring became such that the fear of becoming refugees was over ruled by another fear—the fear of losing our home or lives if we remained in Gorlovka. We held on awhile longer, as the guns were shooting from time to time. But when the tanks started rolling in, we understood that nothing good could come of this. The tanks and canons could blow out our house. Why should we remain and allow our kids to watch? Why should the children stay under threat of being shot by bullets or shells?

In short, we packed some things, gathered our kids and elderly parents and left for an unknown direction. Our relatives offered us to live in their house near Krivoy Rog town which they left long time ago. But this house turned out to be unsuitable for living. What next? Our friends (also refugees) invited us to move to Kirovograd region. We were allowed to stay temporarily in a house, which was for sale.


So, we live in such way. I’ve got job in Svetlovodsk – in the district center. My wife stays at home with our children because there is no kindergarten in this village. My father and mother-in-law stay with her. My salary of 2,600 UAH (about $100) is just enough for food. We like this village. The senior kids enjoyed the local school in the village as they made many friends there. But it is impossible to live in the village without farming or gardening. We need our own piece of land and a house.

We found such house in Nikolskoye village. There is a small house but it has gas heating and water supply. There is also a big garden. The owner has made a discount for us and sells it only for 25,000 UAH (about $1,000) But… we won’t be able to save such sum of money even in a year in this situation. In addition to expenses for food, we have the needs of our children to buy medicine for and our paralyzed grandma. It is hard imagining not having a place to plant potatoes when spring comes.


We are not afraid of hard work. I will construct the shed and will breed chicken, geese and a pig… But… we can’t do that in the yard that belongs to other people. And we just need to survive. We want to get provision from the land and farming, raise our kids and take care of our parents as much as we can. Unfortunately, the war took away everything we had. I would like to move back to my house in Gorlovka to the safe place I once knew… but I have no idea if it still even exists.

Help us! We are hard-working people. We will stand on our own feet. We believe that the Lord won’t abandon us and everything will be fine.

Sergey Ratiyev lives in Nikolskoye village of Kirovograd region.

Ratiyev family pictured.

The press-center of “Emmanuil” Charity Association” would like to add that the Ratiyev family are believers. One of their daughters is adopted.

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