Darkness, but also light – a letter from the Boyarka Community Foundation in Ukraine
08 Feb 2023
In a letter sent to foreign supporters of the Boyarka Community Foundation in December 2022, the Deputy Chair of the foundation’s board – Maria Kyrylenko – describes the realities of war, in winter, in Ukraine. Maria’s account of the practical challenges, fear and suffering, yet also the determination of the foundation to support the Boyarka community through these dark times, follows below. The GFCF received permission from the foundation to republish the letter in its entirety here.
Dear foreign friends!
We sincerely thank everyone who helped the Boyarka community and our Boyarka Community Foundation in 2022!
This terrible year is almost over. I am writing on 29 December 2022. Our morning today began with terrible, loud explosions – Ukraine was again attacked by Russian missiles and drones. Our compatriots say that anti-aircraft defense shot down missiles over two settlements, each of which is located about two kilometers from us. It is scary that a rocket can hit us, and it is equally scary that its debris can fall on the house. Missiles to Kyiv often fly through Boyarka, which is located only 20 kilometers from the capital…and now, after the missiles, Russia sends drones, which create an additional threat.
Today, during the shelling, it was so loud that our houses swayed, the windows shook, and the dogs barked loudly and begged to come into the house – they hoped that their owners would be able to protect them.
Our life is very difficult: now we are experiencing the torture of darkness and cold. Russia is targeting energy targets and has already done a lot of damage to our energy system. We often sit without electricity, sometimes for several days, and if the light does appear, then it is only for a few hours.
When there is no light, the internet and mobile communication disappear, there is a feeling of complete isolation and detachment from the whole world. In some homes, where water, heating and cooking depend entirely on the availability of electricity, the water disappears, it gets cold, and there is no way to cook anything. It is the most difficult for families with small children.
“We have already forgotten what illuminated streets are. It is scary and sad to walk home after work in complete, terrible, impenetrable darkness, where there is also no light…the darkness has entered our lives and weighs on us with an indescribable burden.”
When the light comes on, we are nervously trying to get something done and are in constant tension. We wait for it all the time, but still it always happens unexpectedly. We can’t plan anything, everyone’s work and studies are suffering. And every day we do not know whether rockets and drones will arrive again from Russia – whether the morning, afternoon and evening will be good, and the night will be calm.
We have already forgotten what illuminated streets are. It is scary and sad to walk home after work in complete, terrible, impenetrable darkness, where there is also no light…the darkness has entered our lives and weighs on us with an indescribable burden.
We worry every minute for our soldiers, who are now defending the independence of our country and democratic values in difficult and bloody battles. Together with mothers and wives, we cry for the dead. Almost all of us have lost friends and acquaintances in the war, and some lost their closest relatives. We anxiously respond to every phone call and open the local news feed with fear, because we are afraid to learn about new dead compatriots. Our hearts break with pain for those who survived the horrors of the occupation. We do not know whether a new attack on Kyiv will begin – next to the capital we will be at the epicenter of the attack. And we don’t know if Russia will use nuclear weapons…
“But at the same time, we are cheerful, energetic and work much harder than before the war. We cannot afford to be weak, because our job is to help others. We hold on because we know that there are many who have had a much harder time.”
But at the same time, we are cheerful, energetic and work much harder than before the war. We cannot afford to be weak, because our job is to help others. We hold on because we know that there are many who have had a much harder time. There are those whose hometowns and villages were destroyed, whose relatives died, those who survived the horrors of occupation and torture, there are forced migrants who lost everything and found refuge in Boyarka. And there are those who received serious psychological injuries from the war.
We are developing our charity fund and helping displaced people and all those who need psychological and emotional support as much as we can. We are cooperating with the Social and Psychological Center. Electricity in the Center is rarely turned off, so more and more people gather around this institution. We plan projects with the Center and cooperate with psychologists. We are trying to psychologically support forced migrants and all those psychologically affected by the war. We want to comfort them, distract them from difficult memories, put them in a positive mood, give them important knowledge and useful skills for psychological survival. To do this, we organize competitions for social projects and implement projects ourselves that help people survive not only physically, but also mentally.
“In dark times, the virtues of compassion, kindness and generosity shine brighter.”
Our dear friends, the team of the Boyarka Community Foundation thanks you for your support in difficult times! It is not only money, it is a great moral support, it gives us confidence that we will not be left alone in this terrible war. Thank you, friends! We are all very touched by the fact that you support Ukrainians in a small town near the capital. You give us hope for victory.
In dark times, the virtues of compassion, kindness and generosity shine brighter. God bless you!
Deputy Chair of the Board, Boyarka Community Foundation