News agency 'Vchasno'

«Cooked Soup from Canned Food and Washed Once in Three Days»: The Story of a Family from Donbas that Survived Shelling

For the family of Oksana Kubrina, the morning of February 24 began with war. The first thing a woman heard when her husband woke her up were the words: «Oksana, wake up, it's war.» The first minutes of awakening was accompanied by the sounds of explosions and gunshots.

We did not have to cook pigeon soups like others. We made soups from canned food

Oksana tells «Vchasno» journalists that she packed the bag in a few minutes. However, neither she nor her husband and the child went to the bomb shelter — she did not want her son to see drunk people.

«There were a lot of drunk people in the shelter. I did not want the child to see all this. And in general, people perceived the war as some kind of game — everyone thought that it was short-lived, not too serious,» the woman says.

The family didn't have serious problems with food only thanks to a neighbor — she owned several grocery stores, and when the lights were turned off — she opened the stores and began distributing food to everyone who came for her.

«The only problem was (although it's not a problem) that every day we ate the same as the day before. But we didn't have to cook pigeon soup like others. There were soups from canned food. It was cooked on a fire for six people.

There was also macaroni. The neighbor brought one package. But it was almost impossible to get anything. People began to rob everything because they felt the permissiveness. The military also opened many stores and allowed people to get products or medicines from pharmacies there. However, it was forbidden to drink alcohol," Oksana Kubrina recalls.

Washed once in three days to save water

The situation was worse with water. There was no access to drinking water — and the fact that the family lived not far from the sea saved it.

«We dug a hole for the foundation around the house because we wanted to expand. When it rained and snowed, water collected there. Plus, we lived near the sea and groundwater seeped into the pit. From this pit, we took water for cleaning dishes and for washing. We washed once every three days to save water because it was scarce. And in order to cook something hot, the man went to the well once every three days. He collected drinking water there.

One day he went and took the youngest son with him. And then, when they were near the well, a mine flew into the sea nearby. It is good that both survived and were not injured.

Neighbors lay dead in the street for several days until the dogs started tearing them apart

And the neighbors were less fortunate. Both went out to fetch water, a mine flew by. Both were killed on the spot. Two children were left without parents. It's very scary… They lay on the street for several days until the dogs started tearing them. Then we buried them in our yard," Oksana recalls.

So the family lasted until March 16. That day, her husband took her and the youngest son out of town.

He said that only for a few days. But he returned a few days later with broken ribs — he was beaten in the middle of the street because he was «in the wrong place at the wrong time». At the same time, he told Oksana and her son: «We will not return to Mariupol.»

Finland asked not to stay in their country — they went to Germany

On April 2, the family finally left the occupation, having spent a day in line for filtering.

«The filtration was very… Peculiar. Fingerprints, full-face and profile photos were taken. They talked about nothing. At customs, the entire car was inspected — even the air filter was removed. Although they looked at things selectively and superficially — because when they saw a pan with cooked macaroni in a garbage bag, they shuddered. And they even found long-deleted photos in phones and looked at them,» the resident of Mariupol recalls.

The family spent 10 days on the road. They slept and ate in the car while driving to Germany — Finland asked the Kubrins not to stay in their country. Now the family has moved to Germany, where they are registered as refugees.

«We are registered as refugees, we receive payments from Germany, we have found housing. Children go to school, we buy food in a social store, things are second-hand. Of course, not everything was good, not everyone treated us well… But most of the people are good and kind,» she says.

Ms. Oksana admits to journalists: not everything in the country is «sweet». However, she is grateful for the shelter for her family and that she, her husband and children are alive and safe.