“I was grateful that we were alive”

16-year-old Dasha did not believe that the war would begin, but reality turned out to be ruthless

UNICEF, The Village
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UNICEF
08 August 2022

On 23 February, 16-year-old Dasha was still just a normal schoolgirl from Kyiv, spending time with her friends and preparing for her exams. On the 24th, she woke up to the sound of her little sister screaming and sirens wailing.

Her parents were in a state of panic – Dasha had never seen them like that before. The 16-year-old spent the first day of the war at home, crying, watching for planes from her window and preparing to die.

The next day, Dasha and her entire family left for their summer house in the Kyiv region. Altogether, they formed a group of 10, belonging to four generations. 

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Over the following weeks, Dasha lost weight, as she was afraid that others would not have enough food because of her. The fighting came closer and, eventually, the family fled again. They were forced to leave one of their four dogs behind, since it had cancer and would not survive the difficult journey.

With little money left, the family stayed in a dormitory.

“It was disgusting,” says Dasha. “A hole in the floor for a toilet, no doors, no privacy. The cots were impossible to sleep on. But I was grateful that we were alive.”

For the first two weeks, Dasha stayed inside. The unfamiliar surroundings made her physically sick and she was on the verge of tears all the time.

Recently, she used an app to find a new friend called Masha, who she has enjoyed going on walks with. 

 

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“She brought me flowers on our first meeting,” says Dasha, happily.

But her only wish is to return home, to her dog and her friends.

To help children like Dasha, 150 UNICEF volunteers have carried out socio-emotional and educational support activities in several of Kyiv’s neighbourhoods. One hundred children and teenagers aged 3-17 joined the activities.