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26/04/2022
Her dad almost lost his eyesight after beating.

17-years-old Mariupol resident Mariia Vdovychenko told about hiding in the basement and filtration camp after the evacuation

Mariia Vdovychenko, who survived after 2 weeks in occupied Mariupol

Mariia Vdovychenko’s family lived in occupied Mariupol for 12 days. They survived the destruction of their home, hiding in the basement, hunger, cold, fear, shelling, and a filtration camp. The girl told her story to Hromadske media.

On the night of February 24, her mother woke everyone up and reported the explosions. The parents and their two daughters collected warm clothes and leftovers. But the city has already been closed. Their basement was not intended for hiding. Two days later, the connection, water, and light disappeared. The gas disappeared later.

In the first days, the family hid in a room or bathroom. One day the Russians fired on their house and it collapsed. The Vdovychenko family managed to get out and reach the nearest basement. The people in the basement did not want to let them in, but Maria’s father insisted. After that, another family with a 5-month-old child went to the basement. Only about 30 people were in the shelter. Gradually the products ran out. On day 10, the family had only 1 piece of bread. People extracted water from snow and ice.

People hide in the basement in Mariupol. By Oleksander Yermochenko.
Illustrative photo

Natalia, the girl’s mother, has been suffering from polyneuropathy (a lesion of the nervous system) for six years. The woman couldn’t walk because of the regular stress. Pharmacies did not work, and there were no medications. The woman’s heart stopped twice. The father resuscitated his wife with artificial respiration and heart massage.

At the same time, the Russians did not stop shelling the city. One night everyone in the basement woke up to the noise. Plaster and brick fell from the ceiling. “I was lying and thinking: we will not get out of here. This is my grave. I lost hope of anything. It can’t last long. A person suffers for something.” The girl was sure she would die.

One day the family heard about the possibility of going to the village of Melekino. Dad was able to drive the old car. Soon the soldiers of “Donetsk People’s Republic” stopped the family. They sent every Ukrainian citizen to a convoy of cars, which was constantly under fire. When the family arrived in the village of Yalta in the Donetsk region, they hid in an old boarding house for more than 10 days. The family had no food and took water from the well. The Russians did not provide humanitarian aid. They imported products from Russia, but the prices were too expensive. The Vdovychenko family was able to buy only two loaves of bread.

Mariia at the first day in the consentration camp.
Photo from the personal archive

The parents decided to leave again. So they ended up in a filtration camp in Mangush. The family waited in line for two days because there were hundreds of cars ahead. The Russians forbade leaving the car, fetching food and water, and going to the toilet. Soldiers went with weapons, threatened, and checked all the people. The Russians allowed the sick mother and younger sister not to get out of the car. Maria and her father went to separate filtration rooms.

The girl says that fingerprints were taken from her, documents were scanned, and her phone was checked. She had to answer provocative questions about her attitude to the government. The soldiers released the girl and an armed soldier escorted her to the car. He pushed the girl, but she got up and ran to the car.

Mariia’s father returned 40 minutes later. He came out and fell. Still, the man was able to get to the car. Then the family went to the suburbs and villages in the direction of the city of Berdyansk. There they spent the night in a car.

Mariia’s father got the document, which says “Fingerprinted at April 4, 2022”.
From the personal archive

There were 27 checkpoints from Berdyansk to Zaporizhzhia. The military checked documents at each checkpoint. In the morning, the family arrived in the town of Orikhiv in the Zaporizhzhia region. When the soldiers at the entrance said, “Don’t be afraid, this is Ukraine,” the family began to cry.

Vdovychenko’s family arrived at the refugee assistance center in Zaporizhzhia. The mother received medical treatment. The father had vision problems, so the volunteers helped the family get to the Dnipro. There the doctors examined the father. They concluded that the man was injured due to a concussion. He lost sight in one eye and has a serious problem with another eye. Then the volunteers sent the family to Lviv for treatment.

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