The war in Ukraine doesn’t seem to end, but military actions and progress are not everything. What has been happening since the outbreak of the war on February 24, 2022, has had a permanent impact on the lives of millions of Ukrainians and the country’s residents, who have often had to leave the country unexpectedly and indefinitely.
One such person, is University of the Arts London journalism student from Kyiv, Dasha Tretyakova, who told Artefact magazine: “At first, when everything was just getting started, I was constantly in the state of fear and anxiety. I myself experienced the first three days of war as I was back home when everything started. I distanced myself from everything that was happening on the outside. I experienced the first three, probably the scariest and most uncertain days. I know exactly what everyone else feels and experiences back home.”
Although she was in Kyiv for the first three days of the war, Dasha came back to London, and she admits: “Being here in London sometimes makes me feel useless and I don’t know exactly what to do to be helpful. Things I that I do here or experience feel a bit pointless and irrelevant because the system of priorities changed forever.”
As the war continues and has now been going on for seven months, has Dasha’s mindset changed? Is it easier to accept the new reality? Her closest relatives stayed at home, back in Kyiv; they are safe, but on the other hand, Dasha points out that “It looks like it is not safe anywhere anymore. Now, it has been almost seven months. I can’t say that it’s easier, it’s definitely not. I still worry about my friends, family and people of Ukraine. But I would say I became more resilient to pain and fear. I now clearly know what is happening and my body adapted its reaction. What helps the most is talking to my family and friends.”
Dasha confesses to us that on the day of Russia’s invasion, she completely changed the way she looks at her future and that of her homeland.
“Before 24th of February I used to plan everything to the smallest detail. Now, I don’t like or want to think about the future. War teaches you to live in the present and cherish every moment. So I don’t know what the future holds for me. But I know I want to help my country however I can for as long as I can. Predicting when the war would end is also a bit silly for me. We all know that it won’t end tomorrow or in a next week. We have to adapt to the new world each day and remember that nothing will be the same as it was.”
This is not the first time that Dasha has experienced military action in her country. “As Ukrainians, we build our new chapters every single day because it feels like we live through a whole life cycle each day. Ukrainians are used to fighting for their rights and resilience. Everyone of my age, since pretty much being born, have witnessed two revolutions, one in 2004 and one in 2014, and now this war. It’s hard, but we know what we are fighting for – freedom, for us and the whole world – which means we will win,” she says.
When it comes to support for Ukraine, military assistance from other countries or from international organisations such as the UN or NATO are not enough. We, as citizens of the world, can also help, show our support and above all, educate – ourselves and others. The war has been going on for more than 200 days, and compassion fatigue has set it. Dasha, agrees, and sees that a kind of getting used to the ongoing Russian aggression is already visible.
“I noticed that the interest died down. Of course, there are other important issues also happening right now, for example Iran’s protests, etc. All of those issues should be covered on social media and news. Yet, especially in social media, I have noticed that many people that I follow are more keen to raise awareness on other issues and have only posted ones maybe in March or April about war in Ukraine.
“To me, this seems like people’s genuine interest died down six months ago, which is obviously disappointing and devastating. I think Europe, especially, forgets that if Ukraine will fall down, the whole Europe will. We are currently fighting for everyone.”
Is there anything we can do in particular? Even small gestures count:
“I would say donating and spreading awareness still matters. You can donate a pound and it would make a massive change. Even if you can’t donate, post links for donation. Maybe people who follow you will be able to donate, and that matters,” Dasha admits.
“Post news and facts on what is happening. The more people will know the truth, the more support we will get. There are also many interesting exhibitions, plays and performances happening around the world that are of Ukrainian artists. Usually, all events like these mean that earnings will go to donation centres. So you can actually spend money on something interesting and educational, while supporting Ukraine.”
Since coming to London just at the end of February, Dasha haven’t been back in Ukraine since then. “I’m not planning for now as it is to dangerous to travel all the way back there. But I hope to be back at some point”- and that’s what I wish to her and all Ukrainians that because of the war, were forced to leave their families and country. Hope soon, they can come back to free and liberated Ukraine.
Featured image by DmytryiOzhhikhiin via Deposit Photos.