"This is where I was sitting when the roof of my house was blown off by Russian artillery," said 65-year-old Nadia. Immediately, my youngest son rushed to dig me out of the rubble. Searching desperately through the charred remains, he called out, "Mom, mom..." When he found me, he took me by the arms and dragged me to the basement. "That's how he saved my life," recalls this brave woman.
Nadia's whole life has turned upside down. At the beginning of the Russian invasion, her village had been under constant shelling. Without warning, Russian troops entered the village of Bobryk. She lives in the former occupation zone, cut off from the rest of the towns and villages.
Nadia's home stands near the center of the village. Five minutes away stood a school, church, and village grocery store. The school served as headquarters for the Russian army. Today, only the foundations of these three buildings remain. Forced to retreat by our Ukrainian army, the former occupiers destroyed everything.
Behind a large gate damaged by artillery-shell fragments is a house, without a roof and windows, covered only with cellophane plastic to keep out the rain. She comes out of the house with a huge smile and warm welcome, typical of Ukrainian hospitality.
The village of Bobryk was under occupation for about a month. During this time, Nadia and her sons did not leave their native home. They even managed to plant a garden and grow vegetables for food, although the village was constantly under fire.
When Bobryk was liberated from the Russian occupiers, Nadia's youngest son joined the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Today he is fighting on the frontline. Her eldest son lives with her, helping in the garden and around the house. She travels to Kyiv several times a week, working as a maid.
Her house was seriously damaged. The make-shift roof constructed from cellophane does a poor job of keeping out the rain. Nadia refuses to leave her home because of a lifetime of memories. She gave birth to her first child and celebrated her daughter's wedding in this house.
Family photos, taken in and around the yard, preserve a lifetime of precious memories. This house is her life. It was her hiding place during the occupation by Russian troops. Despite the horror of war, her home still contains the best memories of her life. It is only fitting that this strong-spirited and very warm-hearted woman is named Nadiya, which means "Hope" in Ukrainian.
New Horizons has begun rebuilding the roof and installing windows in Nadia's home.
Natalia Dunai - Social media director
Natalie-Helen-Dunai wrote this story after meeting Nadia. Natalie as the social media director for our team at New Horizons.