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Teen Spirit: Renata

Hello, my name is Renata, and this is my story. Russia's invasion of Ukraine has affected children and young people, and I am no exception.
BY Liubov Lavreniuk

Photo Credits: Renata

My Life Before the War

First of all, I want to tell you about my life before the war. I love cooking; it’s my hobby. I can always make something delicious, and this is usually very relaxing for me. When I have free time, I make short aesthetic videos about my morning and post them on Tik Tok. People like them and say my videos motivate them to have a productive morning, and I’m happy about that. I also love reading books about psychology or achieving goals. In the evening, we meet with friends and go for a walk. We like going to various cafes with delicious desserts and coffee. 

I am glad I was surrounded by friends with similar interests since we never got bored. I studied at school, went to the gym, developed my skills, spent time with friends and family, and arranged my plans for the future. But then this disaster destroyed all these plans. On the morning of February 24th, at 5:19 a.m., my mother woke me with words I will never forget. “Get up and pack your things. The war has started.” I started to grab my things and heard the explosions from the first rockets. I started crying and didn’t understand how this was possible.

Photo Credits: Renata

The First Days

Our whole family got together and went to my grandmother. We spent the entire day there, but at night there was a powerful explosion in Kyiv, which woke everyone up. The windows shook violently. We took all our things and ran to the bomb shelter. So we didn’t sleep all night, and in the morning we decided that we couldn’t stay there, and it was the right decision. We went to a small village near the city of Cherkasy and spent more than a month there. 

The first days were the hardest for me; it was very difficult to adapt. In order not to constantly think about the bad, we went and wove nets for our soldiers and cooked food for them. We dropped money on the army so that it would be easier for them to protect us. It was our pleasure to be of great help at such a time. The war made me understand how you should appreciate everything you have, spend more time with your relatives. Just appreciate the fact that there are no rockets flying over your house.

Unfortunately, on March 8, the Russian army occupied the village where my grandmother lived. They raped women, many of my grandmother’s friends are no longer alive because they were killed. Russians bombed many houses, and my grandmother’s house was also damaged. At that time, we all thought that we would never return, but thanks to our army, at the beginning of April, the Russian army withdrew its troops from the Kyiv region. And already on April the 5th, we returned home. Every day we hear sirens, explosions are heard as well, and it is hard to bear it mentally, but this is our reality.

My Life Has Changed with the War

My life has changed a lot now. I have become much more mature, many new thoughts. Since it is dangerous to study here, I decided to relocate to another country without my parents and it will be hard not to see them, but I know they just want me to be safe. If someone had told me a year ago that this would happen to all of us, I would not have believed it.

But every morning when I wake up, my mood is lifted because my parents are nearby, the whole family is alive and well, and we have a place to live. And that’s something to appreciate. But every time I read bad news, it saddens me. I want people not to forget about the war in Ukraine, that rockets are still falling, killing children and their parents. I believe in our victory and know there is still a little while left to it.

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