Ukraine doesn't have much bomb-shelters at all, some of them were sold to private persons, others were never maintained or repaired and are unusable. People are hiding from shelling in the basements. While those can protect from lighter damages, they are basically prospective collective graves in case the building gets hit too hard and collapses on itself.
(image: Debaltseve village, source)
Today, a family in Debaltseve with children was found by the police trapped in the basement under their ruined home. They've spent a week there with hardly any food and water, it is lucky they got discovered at all.
It's an interesting feeling knowing that if the war were to spread to your city and you found it being shelled, you wouldn't know where to go, perhaps to the park, at least it's a nicer place to die than under the concrete blocks.
But then, I'm not in any immediate danger I don't think. But I know how it feels - to some degree - to be in permenent state of danger, to feel that you've got nowhere to run, because there were several moments during this conflict when experts assessed the probability of full-scale ground offensive as pretty high. In the very beginning Ukraine didn't even have an army as such, it was a total mess, that didn't add to the security feeling.
Today, I feel that full blown war is rather improbable, although not impossible of course. For now. And then, there's simply no point in being in the alert worried state all the time - if you can avoid it, of course. Also, your psyche's defense system will help and become insensitive to a degree, it will get used to living under the constant threat and will react to any new reports of more ammunition crossing the border as 'oh yeah, what else is news'. Iprefer to use most of the time for working, to try and stay afloat while I'm not under any immediate threat.
What's worse is that whether you live in the areas immediately affected by war, close to the front line or not, economically you will suffer anyway. Over the year, the dollar rate has gone up from 8 to 20 UAH (Ukrainian Hryvnya). Although wait... to 25 today.
Euro even more than that ratio. That means, all the goods in the stores are twice as expensive while you make less money because of the crisis and businesses slowing down. Ukraine doesn't produce any or much reliable electronics, home appliances: anything from refrigerator to a computer mouse to a lipstick is imported, and the price is tied to either of the two currencies.
Well, food only grew in price about 20-25% so one can still live to enjoy a nice meal 'lol'.
Anyway, back to the worst places in Ukraine. Seen a few reports interviewing people fleeing the abovementioned Debaltseve:
Some people had left before the worst battles started, but others - for some reason or another - remained in the village, only to be forced to move anyway, but under the fire. Why haven't they left before? I can't really judge them, people often make mistakes, but, damn it, you see a father who says 'my daughter and grandson were killed, now the rest of us have been evacuated to this temporary shelter' and can't help but ask yourself: 'why didn't you flee that place before? you still ended up here in Kiev after all, what was keeping you there? the house? what good is the house if you're dead?' It seems to the people, especially poor people who grew up in Soviet, paternalistic regime, the thought of having to move to an unknown place and finding a work there is almost as threatening as the bombings and shellings. I can understand them to some degree, because I've lived all my life sorrounded by such persons, including in my own family. They're like big children. That's, actually, a big part of thie root of this conflict. Of course, it wouldn't have happened without Russia's fueling and supporting it, but the fertile ground is in the minds of the 'Homo Sovieticus' - those longing for a return of the paternalistic state and thus, sympathizing with Putin as a strong, authoritarian leader. These people watch Russian state channels and trust what Kremlin is feeding them through those. Some have changed their minds though, seeing how things turned out. Sometimes their second favorite is Lukashenko - Europe's last dictator, who is also authoritarian, except he didn't send military to either of the warring parties thus never contributing to the destruction of their homes.
Other part of the people inhabiting Ukraine was influenced more by the European civillization and despises authoritarianism.
Thus, this worldview conflict, where one part says 'we want to have closer ties with Europe' and the other says 'no, we're staying with Russia', one side finds it unaccetable that government should pass totalitarian laws limiting citizens' civil rights, or worse - beat up unarmed students on the main square, and the other is saying 'it's your own fault, shouldn't be disrupting the peace with your protests, go home and work instead' and cheer for police who cracked peoples' skulls.
In general, of course, even though I've always been more on the pro-European side, I simply find myself feeling desperate and not wanting to be a part of another war because, that's all we as a species have been doing throughout our history and there's no end in sight. On the other hand, if pushed into the corner, it may be better to die throwing a grenade than dragging a miserable existence in some partly ruined hut. Not that I'm particularly fearless but you never know...
These are things crossing my mind, and not many people outside Ukraine or similar places can relate to that. Not that I even want to talk about it. Rather, i want (as much as it can be called that, I want that given the options I have right now) to dedicate 95% of my time to work because money is security. So I have almost completely stopped replying to any personal messages or emails. Once in a few weeks I get out to hang with some friends, other time it's work from moning till night with breaks for food and some physical exercise. Practically like living in prison. Which life is, actually, and which life in a third world country is even more so.
For now I am doing relatively ok, considering the circumstances and people who are doing worse right now. So, if you've felt a sudden urge to lighten your wallet while boosting your self-esteem through a donation, consider choosing from this list of options http://www.peoplesproject.com/en/ - from my investigation it looks legit. If not for the volunteers both Ukrainian army and civillians in affected areas would've been in a much more dire state. The government, even when it has funds, has remained a beurocratic cripple that operates on minimal efficiency, so people often ask themselves, do we even need this freaking monster if we still have to do everything ourselves: organize, ask what is needed, fundraise, buy, bring. It's ridiculous.
Oh, want an irony? Ukraine sometimes have funny names for places and you know what one of those cities on the frontline that has been heavily shelled is called? Happines. Schastya.