Victoria Cherepukha, 4th year student of Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv


My family has been living in Irpin for 6 years (we moved here from a beautiful and cosy Mariupol in 2014 because of the hostilities, and now Mariupol is almost completely destroyed).
For Irpin, the occupation began 1.03 when after the shelling there was a power cut in the residential buildings of the village of Romanovka, and starting from 5.03 after the powerful artillery firing there was no electricity in the entire town, as well as no mobile connection. However, the biggest tragedy was the gas outage in residential buildings. This was due to the fact that the main pipeline that delievered gas to Irpin was blown up.

In our house there was also no electricity, gas and water. And 8.03 we cooked food on a fire, which was made outside at the temperature -10C. Since it was necessary to create optimal living conditions in such a difficult period of time, our family began to think about how to build a stove in one of the rooms on the second floor of our private house. After 3 days of decisive actions and modifications, firewood cracked in the stove and the fire warmed our room. Thus, our family had the opportunity to cook on the fire of our own stove and remain relatively warmth.

Starting from 9.03, the large-scale shelling began in the town, which was carried out from tanks, armoured fighting vehicles and Grad multiple launch rocket systems. In our neighbourhood, as a result of shelling, houses in the private sector, as well as apartments in apartment buildings caught fire. There was an atmosphere of horror, the town was full of smoke, the air smelled of gunpowder. Due to the eternal twilight caused by smoke coming from burning houses, it became impossible to determine the time of a day by looking out the window.

From 24.03 to 28.03 there were large-scale battles in the town centre, as well as on the outskirts. As a result of these battles, the incredible number of houses were destroyed, and since many houses had a wooden covering, they were burned down in minutes. The fire moved from the roofs to the second floor, and from there it moved to the first floor, burning everything to the ground. Thus, these houses are no longer subject to restoration.

A large humanitarian aid centre was located on the territory of the Irpin Bible Church, and its representatives during the occupation under whistling shells and flying bullets helped people to evacuate from the occupied town, bypassing every street in search of people who wanted to move to a safer place. After the closure of the shops, the volunteers of the Irpin Bible Church showed incredible care for the residents of Irpin and saved them from dying from cold and hunger, by providing with all the necessary food, medicines and personal hygiene products.

All the inhabitants of Irpin prayed for peace. And it happened 1.04, but before that the column of Russian military vehicles was retreating from the town for 1.5 hours. It was leaving a ruined and devastated town.

When I saw Irpin after the occupation, I thought that the apocalypse had happened. There were absolutely no people on the streets of the town, no cars. It was literally lifeless. Moreover, I was shocked by the scale of the destruction that occurred as a result of the hostilities. All that time, the town was without electricity, gas and water.

Slowly, step by step, the town begins to recover. People return to their destroyed houses and try to restore them. And if the houses cannot be restored, people say goodbye to their home once and for all and move to another place.

Gradually, steps are taken to restore infrastructure, the supply of electricity, gas and water was resumed. The town comes to life. More and more people are returning to their homes and apartments. At the moment, some grocery stores in Irpen are open, mostly those located in the centre. Some parts of the town are being demined, so explosions can be heard now and then.