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Ukrainians Try to Rebuild What Russia Destroyed – UKTN – 11/05/2022

With temperatures dropping this fall, Ukrainians are trying to rebuild homes destroyed during the Russian invasion. Serhiy Medvedev, the mayor of Shestovyzya, near the northern city of Chernihiv, told UKTN that 11 houses in the village had been destroyed and more than 100 damaged.

“The regional administration has helped some villagers by providing them with new windows and building materials,” Medvedev said. “But there isn’t enough money to rebuild everything. Most people are rebuilding as best they can; the cost of material and gas has doubled.” Medvedev said some residents had little choice but to take out expensive bank loans. “Others stay with neighbors, acquaintances, relatives,” he said, “but some don’t know where to go.”

Most of the destruction took place in places where Russia had stored military equipment, tankers, trucks and ammunition. Nearby residential buildings sustained heavy damage. When Ukraine attacked a Russian convoy in Shestovyzya on March 7, exploding ammunition and subsequent fires destroyed almost all houses along the road.

Mayor Serhiy Medvedev says there is not enough money to rebuild everything Image: Oleh Klymtchuk/UKTN

“The Russians arrived on February 28, but we stayed in our house,” Tetyana Letyaha said. Then the Russian army threw out her family and took over the house. “We wanted to flee, but the occupiers wouldn’t let us leave the village, so we went to stay with our friends here in Shestovyzya, so when our road went up in flames, we weren’t in our house anymore.”

On March 31, the Russian troops withdrew. Letyaha, her husband and their 4-year-old son returned to their home, which had become uninhabitable. The roof was destroyed, all windows damaged. Explosions had also damaged the walls and the furnace they used to heat their home. Their garage, car and shed had burned to the ground.

“An acquaintance let us use his house for a year,” says Letyaha, whose family has taken advantage of the delay to rebuild their own home. “We live there now, but we come back to work in the garden and make repairs. In the summer, the village council helped us with new windows. Representatives of the French aid organization ACTED were also there; we had contacted them and received 26,000 hryvnia (€700/$690). We added our own money and were able to repair the roof.”

Tetyana Letyaha has received support from a foreign aid organizationImage: Oleh Klymtchuk/UKTN

Letyaha said that the Dutch aid organization ZOA also supported the reconstruction. “We had already bought a solid fuel boiler and then handed in the receipts to ZOA, who reimbursed us,” said Letyaha. “But now we have more time to do something. I work as a nurse in Chernihiv and my husband works away for an agricultural company, which means he doesn’t have time to install the boiler. But we have to have it ready before winter. Besides, we signed [a document] promise to install it within three months; that was the condition.”

About 50 meters away, Yulia Brytan is repairing her house. She works as a teacher at the Pedagogical Institute of Chernihiv. When flames engulfed her, she was in the house with her ailing mother. “The pressure wave was so strong that our cast-iron stoves ripped to pieces,” Brytan said. “The high temperatures have completely destroyed the gas boiler and wood oven, the floor and the roof, with shells and shrapnel piercing the walls.”

Yulia Brytan looks into the camera
Yulia Brytan has received help from several international organizationsImage: Oleh Klymtchuk/UKTN

Her family received help from the municipality, the International Medical Corps, World Central Kitchen, International Relief and Development, the International Committee of the Red Cross and ZOA. “The money came in installments, depending on the work that was done — so, for example, we repaired the windows, photographed the receipts and mailed them in,” Brytan said. “They could see that we were using the money as agreed. Later we got more money for the heating and the roof.”

Houses ‘totally destroyed’

Some houses have been damaged beyond repair. Nina Radchenko and her husband lost their house. Their house was opposite Letyaha’s. Radchenko said that she and her husband built the house especially for their retirement and that it took 15 years to complete. On March 7, their home, workshop and garage were completely destroyed.

“Everything is totally destroyed, property worth 3.5 million hryvnia,” Radchenko said. “The village council promised us a container house until the winter, but now they say there is no money. My husband and I have worked all our lives, and now we have become beggars.”

Yet they do not despair. Radchenko works as a saleswoman in Chernihiv; her husband earns a living as an electrician in Shestovyzya. They will move in with Letyaha and her family in the winter.

Alla Kyrychenko, from Zarichne, a village on the western outskirts of Chernihiv, also lost her home. Zarichne went up in flames when Russian troops attacked. “My father-in-law was burned in our house on March 4 when they dropped incendiary bombs,” Kyrychenko said. “My kids and I weren’t there that day.” Crying, she added, “We would have liked to take him to a nursing home. He was bedridden.”

The Chernihiv Building Authority has declared the Kyrychenkos property completely destroyed. Regional administrators promised the family that they would get a replacement home. “For now, we are staying with friends in their apartment, although we don’t know how long we can stay,” Kyrychenko said. “We want to cover the garage and spend the winter there.” She has painted her phone number on a boulder along the road in hopes of getting help. Sometimes people call her and support her, for which she is grateful.

In winter, the war in Ukraine will increase: defense journalist

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This article was originally written in Ukrainian.

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