My Country is on Fire!

My Country is on Fire!

Varvara Zlotnyk, Contributing Writer

   I want to tell you my story about the terrible war in Ukraine.   I am 16 years old and I used to live in Kharkiv, which, in my opinion, is the most beautiful city in the world.  I was living my best life, never thinking that the war would get to me and to my city.  Everything was fine until 5 am on February 24.  I woke up that morning to the sound of the explosion of shells.  At first I thought it was a thunderstorm, but I was mistaken…


My dad ran into my room screaming that the war had begun.  I felt really horrible because I  couldn’t believe it.  We were in a hurry to collect things.  There was an unreal turmoil on the street and terrible traffic jams to leave the city.  I left the house with my small dog shaking with fear in my arms and a heavy backpack on my shoulders.  My grandparents live outside the city, so we decided to go to them.  


Everyday we fell asleep and woke up to the sound of explosions. Every night the merciless military bombed my country. I lost count of the days. Everyone lived in fear of not waking up tomorrow. We stayed with my grandparents for two weeks,  but my father said that it was not safe for me to stay there, so he  told my mom to leave and take me to a safe place. I resisted for a long time, saying that I would not go anywhere, because I wanted to stay with my family.  We even decided to sleep with this thought, but we didn’t manage to sleep. They started bombing next to us at 2 am, so we went down to the basement and after that, I realized that we needed to leave. The next morning we poured all the remaining gasoline from our other cars into the car my mother and I  would use to escape. It was very scary to drive as there were many cases of bumping into mines on the roads, but we had no choice. Mom’s classmate invited us to her place. She lived in Lviv, and at that time, it was calm there, so we agreed and decided to go to her. 


It was the most difficult trip of my life. We traveled to Lviv for four  days due to unrealistic traffic jams and curfews.  During this time we managed to spend the night in Kremenchug, then we spent the night in Uman in a Jewish hostel, and  then in Ternopil where we were sheltered by my brother’s girlfriend. Finally after four days without normal food, water, and sleep we got to Lviv. We were there  for two weeks until they started bombing in Lviv. We made the difficult decision to cross the border into Poland. There, we met my dad’s friends who were happy to see us. They helped us buy tickets to America, but the tickets were unrealistically expensive. Therefore, instead of a direct flight, we had to first fly to Italy, then from Italy to Portugal, and from Portugal to New York.  


Now, I live with my uncle and aunt in New Jersey, go to an American school and really miss my relatives in Ukraine.  This war has hardened my character.  I have had to grow up too fast.  I’m shocked that I study in an American school.  I’m here without my loved ones, and only with my mum, but we are strong and we can handle everything.  It is very hard to understand that my dad, my older brother, my grandparents and many more of my relatives remain in the burning Kharkiv.  They cannot sleep peacefully because of the situation in the city.  Every night they fall asleep with dreams of a peaceful life.  I miss and love them very much,  and I believe that soon all this horror will end and everything will fall into place.


Thank you for a quiet life without explosions of shells and missiles, beloved parents.