Do we have alot of good news here in Ukraine after 27 days of this war?… actually not much. But we are fighting still – we don’t lose faith in victory. 

Till today several employees and students died defending their country. Kharkiv has the largest number of destroyed civilian facilities: 972 houses were destroyed by attacks, of which 778 – residential buildings (you can see attached photo).

But strength, hope and believe is with us… City mayor is already actively cooperating with architects and builders for the revival of the city of Kharkiv. We have a clear understanding of how and what needs to be done. 

We continue to provide our help for students and staff. Last week we concentrated mostly on a medicine line. I’m attached photo you can see a small part of what we bought and send with volunteers to different parts of the Kharkiv. Once again thank you for your financial support – all this is possible because of your donations – private and collective. Last week PayPal started to work in Ukraine. We realized how easy and progressive it is – thx to digital advantages))

Today I would like to share everyday life of the people who are under the war circumstances nowadays… I can say that I’m out of this reality from last week, but people who are in Kharkiv still are in it… This kind observation helped to overcome emotional exhaustion. Sociological profession does not leave us in trouble and gives hope for the future. Your questions, emails, posts, donations, help with humanitarian aid, demonstrations, rallies in support of Ukraine, readiness to accept our students in your Universities, to give jobs in your Universities to us, acceptation of internally displaced persons in your homes – everything says that you worry about us, about Kharkiv and Ukraine.

So I decided to share a details of our the schedule of life under war time that I experienced myself and I observe from daily communication with my employees who are in Kharkiv still (especially from the post of my colleague who is a specialist in a methods of sociological research and who like to observe everyday life).

The beginning of the day is determined by the military: it depends on the volleys of guns whether the citizens will spend the night in a cozy bed or in a cold basement, whether the city will rest or not sleep at all.

First of all, the most important messages are checked – online chats of the different city groups, houses and entrances: where did they fly in, what kind of damage, who suffered. Before breakfast, all efforts are put on viewing the remaining groups of messages – there is a roll call in communities in different areas of activity (employees, colleagues, partners and other teams). At some point, they began to carry out roll calls from house to house: “house No. X is intact”;  “House No. Y survived,” etc.  Last but not least, official sources are studied: the channels of the mayor of the city, the Kharkiv city council, the news of the dispatch service 1562, etc. Far beyond the limits of the messages read are pre-war thematic and professional publics. Not for a minute does personal correspondence with friends and neighbors who remained in Kharkiv and who know the situation firsthand does not stop. We just live with a phone in our hands (in my last week in Kharkiv phone screen time statistics showed 19-20 hours).

No one is annoyed by hundreds of messages every 15 minutes at any time of the day or night. Everyone rallied and became closer than relatives. During breakfast, you have to make difficult decisions: when is the safest time to leave the house, whether there will be food delivery today and to which stores, which queue is a priority (for medicines, milk, animal feed?). The expectation of a complete blockade brings residents out of hiding in search of food, even under shellings and air attacks. Already from afar, by the crowd of people, it becomes clear which outlets are open and where there is goods; when taking the queue, be sure to specify what was brought and in what volume. Next, you need to be patient in order to stand in line of hundreds of people for at least two hours to the sound of explosions (of course, all depends on a city region – some parts of the city are in a bette reconditions, some of them don’t have grocery shops at all already). A deceptive sense of security appears in the crowd: few people react with a flinch to explosions, fewer turn around in search of the source of loud sounds. After 5-10 minutes, the atmosphere of a “long-distance train passenger” turns on: residents decide to share their experiences and collect oral histories worthy of recording in memoirs (throwing in search of baby food, receiving medicines for individual diagnoses, crying out for help from lonely retired people, fighting in line for humanitarian aid, etc.).

A branched social structure is self-reproducing and organic solidarity is maintained: someone finds the right words for those who urgently need to cope with panic; someone asks for help and advice, someone shares their ways of survival;  someone passes the contacts of volunteers, someone is looking for places to distribute humanitarian aid; someone gives reports from shops, pharmacies and safe locations;  someone reports encouraging news and retells forecasts for a peaceful life. Of course, there are those who find the moral rottenness in themselves to carry out their illegal machinations: to profit from the gouging of prices for goods and services;  make money on free food packages; sell the line in supermarkets and directly engage in outright looting.

There was a problem with a lack of cash in some parts of the city. There is no collection, the functions of ATMs are performed by local money changers.  Payment by cards is available only in large chain stores, and the system of cashing out at the checkout is almost unrealizable.  Thus, the digital economy did not work in a war for 100%. So what is solution: I get cash in another city and just transfer money with volunteers by car.

Utilities are a constant headache. The high probability of being without electricity, water and gas at any time makes it necessary to solve household tasks in advance: do cleaning in advance, heat water in advance, prepare dinner in advance, etc. As a result, you are in a state of constant hustle and bustle. 

For people who are in Kharkiv still – the time that could be devoted to doing remote work, creative projects, is inexorably taken away by long sitting in the basement during the hostilities. There ends the day of life in war conditions. There, with a beating heart and frozen hands, it turns out to devote oneself only to reading books, to believe in the end of this nightmare and for future Ukrainian victory.

P.s. Also the American organization has helped with food for the residents of the ecopark near Kharkiv, and now there should be enough food for the coming weeks, according to the zoo’s Facebook page. It is noted that the assistance came from the American Harmony Fund – Animal Rescue Charity, as well as from Ukrainians and domestic business. 

Best regards,

Olena Muradyan,

Ukraine 🇺🇦 

Photo and video credits: Olena Muradyan (C)