Photo collage by Dmytro Taradaika
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My name is Dzvinka Sira, I am 22. I am the medical curator of the patronage service of «Azov» Regiment.
The full-scale war started for me about a month before the invasion. It started with the initiative of the Defense Staff of the Lviv region, which started organizing training for the civilian population. There, people gained knowledge of how to use weapons, handle them safely, and how to recognize explosive devices. Specialists in tactical medicine, The State Emergency Service of Ukraine, medics with combat experience, and emergency doctors were among the invitees. We also cooperated with the Lviv shooting range instructors. We told people that when there are suspicious objects or toys scattered in a certain place, they should not be picked up, as they could contain explosives.
Before that, such trainings had not been conducted since 2016-2017, but due to the possible threat of a full-scale invasion, we realized that such a need existed. In total, we managed to hold three trainings. Before the fourth one, the full-scale war began. 500 people of various ages came to us during the training period, many of man later went to fight, women started volunteering.
I remember the day of February 24, 2022 very well. At 5 o’clock in the morning, I got a call from the headquarters and was informed about the gathering. We discussed our next actions, work strategy. It was clear that the girls were staying to volunteer and collect aid, while the boys were planning to go to the front. Many of them had relatives and acquaintances in «Azov», so the boys tried to get to Mariupol on the first day, but on February 24 they were unable to do it. However, on the 25th, we sent them to Kyiv, and they joined the «Kyiv» special forces unit. Now it is the 3rd Separate assault brigade.
A significant and painful figure for me is 700. That is how many defenders of Mariupol from the «Azov» regiment remain in captivity to this day. My brother and many friends are among them. Almost all of them are young guys, who are 19-20 years old. My brother is 27. We have been waiting for nine months, and we don’t know what happened to them. As time passes, they are isolated from us, and we are isolated from them.
In fact, there are many significant figures. For example, the patronage service «Azov» managed to help more than 200 fighters, some of them got out of captivity. The medics give us information about the boys. We immediately call the wounded and collect their necessities: clothes, underwear, and phones. We look for a place of treatment, and if necessary, take them to a private clinic. After that, we make sure that they have a good rehabilitation, help with documents and return to the army. The fighters of «Azov» and the 3rd Separate assault brigade do not spend their money on treatment – everything is compensated by the «Charitable Fund of the Patronage Service «Angels of Azov». Even if the soldier’s wife has already bought medicine with her own money, we give it back. In short, we provide everything: initial examination, transport, treatment, and rehabilitation. At the same time, we help their families.
Many of my relatives and friends are fighting now. Apart from my husband and brother, my father-in-law, stepfather, and two husband’s brothers went to the war. There are no adult men left at home in our family. But it is a great joy for me that they are all alive and there is at least some news about all of them. Of course, this is a dubious joy, but it is there. Other people are not so lucky... Another joy for me is to see soldiers who, having lost one limb or even two in the war, gets up and are able to walk after some time. I am happy as if these are the first steps of my own children.
I wonder to myself how I was able to withstand so much emotional and physical stress during this year.
There are a lot of my own losses at the Lychakiv cemetery. These are Yurii Ruf, and «Hammer» (Taras Bobanych), with whom we were well acquainted, and other guys with whom I was friends from childhood, and in adulthood, we were friends as families. Now they are here... It’s scary to think that when I return home after the victory, Lviv will no longer be the same, and I will no longer meet many people dear to me. I’m afraid to count losses... I’ve never done this, and I still don’t delete contacts from my phone. It happened that in the summer, I dealt with wounded soldiers, and I saw them on the list of the dead in the winter. Of the latter, I remember how a handsome 19-year-old boy after a concussion asked me where he may have a tattoo in Zaporizhzhia. Later, he died heroically.
I was convinced that Ukrainians can unite strongly. Perhaps this is not always enough for a long time, but every terrible event unites us, and we are capable of powerful actions. You can often hear from people that they are not rich, but if you count how much everyone has spent on volunteering in a year, just by dropping money, it turns out that we are very rich. This is manifested not only from the material side but also in deeds, actions, and ideas.
The first thing that «keeps me going» is that I know why and for whom I am doing all this. The second one, which does not let you give up, is summing up my work. About once a month, I consider what was successful and what was not, where it can be better, and where it is too much, and I need to at least sleep longer on Sunday. The third thing that keeps me going is the thought that I have no right to do nothing while the war is going on and that someone needs me. My job is not as difficult as that of the guys who sit in cold trenches under constant fire and the threat of death, repelling attacks.
Ukraine will definitely win because we have no other choice. This is the only correct way. It’s either them or us. Over the past year, we have overcome such a difficult path and there is no turning back. We will overcome everything, everything will be fine with us. Yes, the path to victory is somewhat different from what it seemed to us initially. It is long and complicated, but the point of no return was set a year ago.
I would like to tell the world that war is death, destruction, mutilation, and torture. I would never want any of my peers in the civilized world to know what war is. Another message to the world is not to forget that there are many people in Russian captivity. We do not know whether their rights are respected, whether they are provided with medical assistance or humanitarian support, or whether they are not tortured. The civilized world should come to their defense, and demand at least elementary contact with relatives. Just like the world, we do not know this. But let’s not forget that these people went out under guarantees. Therefore, this topic is still painful for me, and I prefer that the world does not forget about it. Unfortunately, after the summer, in particular Olenivka, everything got memorized very easily…
The fight continues!
Recorded by Olha Shveda, translated by Kateryna Bortniak
Translated by Vitalii Holich
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