We lived in Izyum until April 5th, totally unprepared for the war. We had no cash savings and by February 25th all the ATMs were empty. The bridge was blocked, making it impossible to reach the city center. Our neighborhood, all the way up to the river, swiftly became occupied by russian troops. Soon we were left without electricity, gas, and all means of communication. The Internet connection was, of course, gone as well. And then the airstrikes left no place to hide. The once-accessible stores were now a distant memory, forcing us to endure long queues for necessities, even violating curfew in our desperate quest for bread. We lived like that for a month.
On April 5th heavy shelling engulfed our home. The walls crumbled, and the ceiling was on the floor. Amidst the rubble, I unearthed my daughter, her body battered and burned, all broken up. I found my husband dead outside the house.
With no home to return to, our only path forward was to russia to get my child a life-saving surgery. We landed in Belgorod. Russians were filming us like monkeys in a zoo to demonstrate how supposedly happy we all were there. Refusing to be led deeper into Russia, we fought against any offers. A friend introduced us to Helping to Leave who became our beacon of support. With their help, we now found refuge in Switzerland. The journey was fraught with challenges, but we're slowly adapting, learning the language, and re-enrolling our children in school. The desire to return to Ukraine lingers, but the reality is our home is now a charred memory. Without my husband, rebuilding feels futile. The future is uncertain, and we wait, suspended between the haunting images of our burned-down house and the hope for a new beginning.