Story #39. Surviving Russian Shelling and Being Left Without Home

August 10, 2022
The story of Olha Bura from Chernihiv, who survived Russian shelling and was left without a home.

Olga began to feel something was wrong after the new year. There was a constant movement of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border. Her heart was in trouble. She said that Chernihiv would be the first, because this is the first direction towards Kyiv.

Until March 15, shelling was carried out somewhere far away, and then it became closer. First, the area where Olha lived was bombarded from planes, and then the Russians hit with "Grads" and mortars.

During heavy shelling, Olga hid in the cellar, and in relatively quiet moments she baked bread for territorial defense. People from all over the street came to eat, Olha divided the bread so that everyone had enough.

Olha had no problems with food, because all the neighbors who left the city left their food for those who remained. However, there was a shortage of medicines. People shared those medicines that were bought before the war.

Olha became friends with the neighbors, and together they hid in the cellar. At first, five of them went down there, but then two men, Vasya and Slavik, refused to go down and sat in the house during the shelling.

“The worst thing for me was when the plane was flying. It flies, buzzes, and you don't know where he will drop the bomb. Will I be able to reach the cellar or not. What if it drops a bomb right on the cellar,” Olha recalls.

One day, gunfire began. The bullets flew so that the glass in the house was shattered. “I don't know by what miracle they weren't killed there,” Olha says of the friends who stayed at the house. Later, Olha's house was completely bombed.

However, another Olha’s neighbor, Valik, was killed by shell fragments. Olha and her neighbors buried him right in the explosive funnel. After some time, Olha noticed that the dogs dug up the corpse and ate his head.

This terrible picture impressed Olha so much that she and her neighbor Nadia found volunteers who came and took the corpse to rebury it in a mass grave.

Olga's daughter and grandson first hid in the bomb shelter of a school in Chernihiv, then evacuated to the village, where it is safer. But the child began to have mental and heart problems.

“Russians are not fascists, not orcs, not monsters. I don't know how they can be called. I don't understand what kind of mother gave birth to them and raised them. How can civilians, women, children be killed? They'll pay for this. If not them, then their children,” Olha says.

This material was prepared with financial support from the International Renaissance Foundation.