February 5, 2023
Inna Sokolska
(Kharkiv/Dnipro, Ukraine)

Kherson is the only regional center in Ukraine that russian troops managed to occupy. From March 2 to November 11, the city was under the control of the russian occupiers. How did people live during these eight months? How did they manage to get food and fuel? One resident of Kherson, who spent several months under occupation, will tell you.


Before the full-scale invasion, Nazariy was a chaplain at a Christian school. He said that he did not believe that Russia would attack. On February 24, the principal of the school where he worked called him and informed him that the war had begun. Nazariy remembers that the only thing he was worried about at that moment was his school work. It was necessary to arrange the documents. And he also helped in the evacuation. But when Kherson was finally occupied by the russians, Nazariy did not have time himself to leave the city. His wife and two baby daughters remained with him.


People sold out of food in a couple of days. Store shelves were empty. It was very difficult to buy necessary goods. Therefore, to help people in need, Nazar and his friends organized a team of volunteers. There was an opportunity to send funds from the territory controlled by Ukraine, so those who cared could donate to help others. A team of volunteers bought groceries, baby food, diapers and medicine and delivered them to those in need.


A few days later, fuel shortages began. All gas stations were empty, making it very difficult to deliver products. But then a sponsor donated funds, and Nazarij bought an electric scooter to transport humanitarian aid.


It was difficult to live in an occupied city. No one felt safe, because there were russian soldiers everywhere, and it was impossible to know what to expect from them.


Nazariy eventually realized that he needed to find an opportunity to take his family out of Kherson. It was scary, because no one knew for sure whether it would be possible to reach the territory controlled by Ukraine. Some autos were shot by russian soldiers, others were not allowed and turned back. Then someone suggested another route, and Nazariy decided to take the risk. His wife and daughters left, and he stayed in Kherson. Nazarij was very worried about the family, because the connection with them disappeared very quickly. Only after some time did his wife finally report that everything was fine with them.


Finally, Nazarij decided it was necessary to flee. Because he had been born in western Ukraine, every time the Russian soldiers checked his passport, they had a lot of questions. They suspected him of being a spy, and he was often subjected to violent acts by the occupiers.

One day, Russian soldiers stopped him to check his documents. Nazarij gave his passport and patiently waited to be allowed to go on. However, seeing that the man was not born in Kherson, the soldier started shouting, brandishing his weapon and threatening. Nazarij was very scared, because he had heard stories about a lot of people who were taken by Russian soldiers just from the streets. No one knew what happened to those people or whether they were alive at all. The soldier continued to shout, and then hit Nazarij several times with a machine gun. Fortunately, after that, the young man's documents were returned and he was allowed to go.


When such incidents happened very often, when they became almost daily, he decided to run. Fortunately he managed to leave safely and meet his family.


After the liberation of Kherson, Nazarij returned to his volunteer activities there. Together with friends, he continues to collect funds, buys food and other necessary things and brings them to those in need.


If you want to help Nazarij and his volunteer team, you can donate here. Other payment information you can find here.

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