At Millie, we believe in the power of personal stories to forge deeper connections and expand perspective. Who better to deepen our understanding than women from Ukraine? Together with Galina Itskovich, a Brooklyn-based/Ukrainian-born clinical social worker/psychotherapist, and the NGO Community Self-Help, we are working to amplify Ukrainian voices. Our first project together is a new series featuring personal essays written by women on the ground in Ukraine.
(Brooklyn-based/Ukrainian-born clinical social work/therapist, Galina Itskovich in her Brooklyn office on March 14).
By woman storytellers in Ukraine, March 24th (3 minute read)
By Maria Galina
On the last pre-war day, we walked along the embankment above the sea, as always in good weather there were crowds, people on bicycles and scooters, couples with children, dogs, fat, well-fed cats on the parapet, cafes where fresh catch was fried ... It was already clear that this was one of the last peaceful days, at night in a rented apartment by the sea I lay and expected a blow, but it happened when I dozed off, it seems the first at four-thirty. A short deaf, very strong blow from the sea. Then the second. I said it seems to have begun. And it really started.
(Woman laying flowers at makeshift memorial for victims in Donetsk, Ukraine. Image: CNN)
Face to Face With War by Natasha Malyuzhenko
My grandmother's blue eyes were burned by the war. Even in the most joyful moments of her life, one could see the shadows of bombings, fires, famine in them ... She carried this terrible burden with her all her life.
In the eyes of Ukrainians today... The war has also settled in them forever. Mariupol. Gostomel. Bucha. Vorzel. Sumy. Melitopol. Kharkov. Nikolaev. Akhtyrka. Kherson. Borodyanka. Irpin. Volnovakha… Each name resounds with pain on the left. Cities bleed: the Russian enemy encircles them, blocks them, bombs them, wipes them off the face of the earth. And people stay in these cities. And they find the last strength: to survive and believe.
(Medical staff tend to children in a room protected by sandbags at a children's hospital in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine. Image: CNN)
By Alyona Scherbyuk
As my colleague wrote yesterday in correspondence: "Now the days are very similar to the previous ones."
That's true. And that is why I am glad that one of my rules is to learn the art of small steps. It is very important to remember that our military takes a thousand small and big steps to win every day.
I was glad that 2,000 people were able to evacuate from Irpin.
I don't know what my stage of living grief is now, but I began to watch less news. It's just as strongly held by prayer!
I asked myself five questions for every night. Perhaps some of it will be useful for you:
- How did I support my Ukraine by my actions?
- How did my actions support family and friends?
- How I supported myself (my body and soul)? This question is probably worth asking first.
- What did I learn today?
- What am I grateful to God for?
(Children playing in refuge centre in Lviv, Ukraine)
By Oksana Ilyenko
I remembered the Christian practice of praying for the well-being and health of enemies but the prayer barely comes out. But I lit the candle with such intent. This practice seems to transport all the evil of the enemy to him and those ones whom he wants to protect. Maybe I'll find prayers to listen to. As long as that's all I can do.
Listening to the news from the front, I rejoice in our victories. The "Iskanders" were smashed - I screamed with joy so loud that my family made me calm down. Of course, I made calls to close ones during the day.
Small things help - I reposted cries for help. I accepted psychological help myself.
I prepared a lot of food - porridge, meat pancakes (and so small quantities of what we have last for longer), baked bread.
We talked with and hugged my little girl.
I embroidered at slow pace.
Like, that's it.
Now, wishing us a quiet night. Everything will be Ukraine!
(Woman reacts in Mariupol, Ukraine. Image: CNN)