This is a letter to the world, the voice of a Ukrainian girl, me, who wants to share my personal story. I am dedicating my voice for this story of my life experience to be read by you, my dear reader. I hope that by reading it, your perception of the world and attitude towards values in life will change and strengthen. I wish no one to ever experience this, and I wish you to appreciate every little thing that makes you feel happy in life.
A letter from a Ukrainian girl to the world
My name is Anna Rudya. I originally come from Ukraine, my homeland where a real war has begun, the nightmare that the entire world had not seen since 1939, when WWII started.
Last Thursday, on the 24th of February, I woke up at 8 am and the first message I saw on my phone was from my friend saying “Have you seen the news yet?”, “Is your family alright?”. I immediately opened the news and saw tons of news articles about Russian soldiers who begun invasion into Ukraine from the North East, and the video talk of the Russian president Putin who proclaimed the beginning of bloody warfare and genocide of innocent nationals of Ukraine that he called “special operation”.
I immediately called my grandparents on my mother’s line who live in Shostka, Sumy oblast, and they told me that they have been watching television since 5 am, when people first started hearing some noise which resembled shootings. When she said “The war has started, Anutochka.” my eyes filled up with tears and I burst into tears. While looking at both of my grandparents trying to completely realise and, at the same time, not being able to believe in what they had just said.
Photo by Maksym Diachenko. Podil, Kyiv, Ukraine.
After I hung up the phone, I immediately called my mom. They were already on their way driving with my dad, my two sisters, my aunt, and my cousins, through one of the longest traffic jams that they have ever seen into the outskirts of Kyiv. When I asked her “Where are you driving? What is your plan?” she said “I don’t know, dear. We have no plan; we are just driving.” Hearing my mom saying this, my whole body was captured with a devastating feeling of the unknown. Driving further away from the city where she had moved and graduated from the university, where she met my dad, and gave birth to three children whose entire childhood is connected with that magnificent green city Kyiv, the city I love the most in the entire world, was making my heart beating faster and my breath more frequent and heavier. The current situation has become more unpredictably threatening, overtaking me with a waterfall of odious, horrifying, despairing, and alarming feeling.
After I talked to my mom, I called my grandparents on my father’s line who were still in their flat located on the left borough of Kyiv. When I heard my granny speaking on the opposite side of the wire, her voice was trembling, every word and sentence that she was uttering was filled with fear, and feeling of the coming woe and horror of this absolutely awful word ‘war’. “Anechka, this is horrifying! We woke up today from hearing some tumultuous noise which dreadfully resembled shooting sounds. A couple of hours later, we looked out the window and saw some of our neighbours already saying goodbye to their grandmother and driving away in their car. Within an hour they had driven back as it was almost impossible to leave the city.” She said that the grandpa went to a pharmacy to get some medicine that they were lacking and had been standing in a queue for 2 hours already, but they still had some bread and food left. Her words made me feel as if I have just transferred back to year of 1939 when the global terror, the WWII suddenly started.
The moment I heard the words from my beloved granny “The war has started. That's the kind of thing, Anechka”, since then the live stream of Ukrainian national television news channels has been turned on my laptop. The number of Telegram channels and Instagram accounts of communities, news channels, and news magazines, whose main and only content everyday are videos of bombings and rackets targeting living areas and building, destroyed streets and living houses, innocent citizens surviving in metro stations hiding from bombs and even women giving birth to children there. Today’s every “Where are you? », «How are you?”, makes my heart beating faster, my whole body is trembling, and my mind has only one thought in that moment, I want them to text me “We are fine, we are safe” and say “I love you»
This has been the main conversation that I and all Ukrainian people have been having with their family, friends, and relatives for the past 6 days.
With every next day, the number of times I would receive an air raid alerts has only been increasing, and every time this message “‼️ ATTENTION! Air raid sirens in Kyiv, Kharkov, Lutsk, Donetsk, Dnipro, Mariupol, Kherson Ternopol, Lvov, Zaporizhya, Shostka, Chernihiv... (and many other cities, towns, villages, and regions in my homeland Ukraine)!” appears on my phone screen, my heart starts beating as fast as it has never beaten before, my whole-body shudders, and the only thought I have in my head at that moment is “I hope this is a false alarm. I hope they can hear it and have a place to hide. I hope this racket, or a bomb will not hit the place where civilian people are staying. I hope everyone is in a safe place at that moment.”
These 6 days have felt like eternity, a never-ending horror, a surreal reality, a nightmare that you simply cannot wake up from. Beginning from that day when I woke up with the news that war has started in my homeland, my days started to last now for 24 hours each. During the night I would wake up innumerable times, to check my phone for the news update, with a fear of missing out something important that could have happened through those two hours while I was sleeping. <
Photo by Gayatri Malhotra. Washington D.C., DC, USA
Throughout the first four days, I have been feeling completely cut off from reality. Here in the Netherlands, seeing clear blue and peaceful sky, birds flying and tweeting on the trees, people cycling, walking, driving cars, sitting in the bars and laughing with their friends and family, holding each other's hands and hugging each other as much as they want, felt absolutely surreal. It was a complete cognitive dissonance.
The reality now has become a constant exposure to news channels, messaging with my family and friends, travelling to three different cities to the protests to scream out “STOP PUTIN. STOP WAR.” At some point when I was shouting that phrase a billion times, I took a deep breath, looking at the sky, and burst into a hysterical cry, but would not stop begging for the war to end with my hoarse voice that was heard by the whole crowd and Amsterdam city.
Any sort of trouble, subject matter, or an issue is valued now as meagre and insignificant compared to this terrifying event. I was not able to focus on any of the tasks, whether it is study or work related. No mundane routine existed for me anymore. I was unable to see or think anything about the nearest future, as the only future I could think of is how the present day will go, hoping for the next day to come. But now, I can see and feel how the war, this irrevocable horror that was suddenly brought down on our beautiful country where people were living their happy and peaceful lives, has changed me and my nation forever.
After all the petrifying life story that my great grandmother had told me about, that cruelty of Nazis during WWII, all of a sudden, I have witnessed it myself. The psychological trauma that every Ukrainian person and child received will stay forever in our heads. The current events of horror have forever changed us as a nation, as people, as individuals, and our attitude to life subjects, things and our perception of the world. Today, my country and my people are writing the history of Ukraine and the entire world, confirming the indispensable weapon called the power of democracy and the power of spirit in the world for the existence of peace.
The current terror that is happening in my homeland Ukraine is something that we shall not be silent about.
You may be far away from this country feeling that this will never touch on you, but when it comes to the unwanted invasion on someone else’s territory, of the sovereign land of free people who used to live their lives, and now their lives, their houses, their families - are being destroyed. When the most valued subject, people’s human right to live, is being taken or is at stake, you as an institution, a student, and simply human beings shall care and be concerned about it.
Together with MAUER, we are doing a fundraising campaign called Support Ukraine by raising funds for Nova Ukraine, one of the largest Ukrainian aid organisations. You can help by donating to Ukraine.
This is the link to our Instagram post where you can donate to Ukraine.
And remember, that even a small action, a donation from you, can make a huge impact.