Remember 2014? It seemed that politics has entered every home: everyone wanted to express their reasoned and conclusive opinion on what was happening on the territory of Ukraine. Some relied on the official news, someone – in the opinion of witnesses who do not believe neither the one nor the other. This year was the beginning of the global political, economic, social process, which we conceptualize for a long time and is unlikely to ever return to the starting position.
I’ve never been interested in politics, and another thing – real people and their actions. For example, I knew that my friend is actively involved in helping the families who came from the area of combat operations. She knew that she was with other activists carries things, baby food, medicines to those who have just lost the house and does not know how to live. From her I learned about the photographer Olga Chermyanin, came from the Lugansk region and Moscow chose their new home.
We sit with her now, in 2016, and talk about the cruel and difficult period of her life. This is a fairly banal phrase, I do not believe that a beautiful girl with a gentle glow on the contrary – the mother of three daughters. As she turned to go through it and keep the soft charm, confidence and shine in the eyes? I will not try to unravel its secrets, just help tell us how everything was.
Mom with a camera
We lived in the city of Rubizhne Luhansk region. Her husband worked in the state structure, I – in the military. There we met with him and love at first sight, almost immediately began to live together. He is older than me by nine years, literally took me through life, learned a lot. With him I have matured. Before him I already had a first marriage – a very young love – from it remained a lovely girl.
When I became pregnant, my husband literally carried on hands. She gave birth to a second daughter, Barbara, on the occasion of this event, my husband decided to make a gift to me, said: “Choose what you want.” I go-go-go, and my gaze stops on the camera. “Buy me a camera – I say – I will shoot children.” When it began to understand, study program for editing photos, I realized that it was mine. It feels like I’ve been doing this – and learn anything do not have to know everything. Revealing of Photoshop, I know all about layers, brushes, know how to use them. My great-grandfather was a painter, perhaps from his genes passed?
I began to take their children, friends and family, gradually mastered the technique, composition, coming up with ideas for a photo shoot. Then I realized that I can start to work for the money, though small, and now has something to offer customers. I remember my first commercial shoot. I called a young pregnant woman, “Sorry, I was soon to give birth, tomorrow is put into the hospital, you could not take pictures of us today? We realized that absolutely no “pregnant” picture. Please, please! “How could I refuse her? I went, we launched a frantic activity in the field of: belly, floating in the air scarves. Very beautifully turned out, all were satisfied. I was very nervous, but the people were simple, understanding, know that for me this work is new and I need help too. Everything went with a bang.
When I shoot, I feel very confident. My husband always laughed: “On the part of you as a military officer of some.” Around all the stops, I do not see anything. Now I sit with you and a few people hesitate, but when doing photography, I can easily say: “You are disturbing us, depart.” I feel responsible for ensuring that people get good pictures, so there is no way timid. If I see that a man initially trapped, I’m trying to get him to talk, to understand that will not bite (smiles) . I think I have all find a common language. Of course, anything can happen, people are different, but almost all customers may learn to tune in to a general “wave.”
Without a declaration of war
In early 2014 I became pregnant for the third time. My husband and I planned this baby, I really wanted a son. When I was five months pregnant, May 22, 2014 at 4 o’clock in the morning we were blown out of bed, because our city is bombed. We could not even suggest that before we reach the war. Of course, all watched on TV – Maidan, Odessa … But no prerequisites to the fact that it will affect our area at that time was not.
I can not even describe this state: horror, fear, do not know who missed the correct way to behave. Immediately turn off the mobile communications, there is no access to the Internet – everything was broken. My husband packed up and left, and I was sitting with two children and a third in the stomach, I’m afraid to go out, hear the roar and do not know what happened to him. I was very afraid of blast waves, so it was putting the children away from the windows.
Every night, when there were explosions, everyone was asleep, and I just sat there with a bag of warm clothes and documents, because they know that the shelter cold and have to dress warmly children.
She sat with a bag of this and all waited include siren, and will need to run to a bomb shelter. Feet, hands are cold, when I remember. Her husband came home to eat, change clothes, told me that he saw, and went back. He took out the wounded to the hospital in his car, he came under fire. Our car was then covered in scratches from the bullets.
About a week later, we began to think about what you need to leave. We went to Belgorod, defended the long line and realized that we were not there to help: a very large influx of refugees, the average earnings of a small and expensive apartments for rent. We started to look for another way out. Many people then offered free accommodation throughout Russia. The husband says, “Let’s try to Moscow. There’s real earnings, may, of old friends you meet. ”
One day I could not phone her husband was very worried, she wrote to her mother: “When you call Denis, find out where he is and what happened to him.” I had a very bad feeling about this, I’m all worn out. When phoned, he could only say one word: “I am in the hospital” – and the connection was lost. You understand what I thought. Because of the emotional stress I had to lie down on the continuation of the pregnancy. I went to the hospital, two days lain down there successfully, and then the battle began near the hospital. It was at the end of May – beginning of June, I do not remember exactly.
When we were evacuated to the basement, I realized that I could not stay there. I saw in these cellars the girls started deliveries around crying, screaming, panic … I called my husband and asked to take me there, and he was just at home with two children himself – had no one to leave. I came home in a taxi (thank God, at least one taxi service worked and helped evacuate people) and said: “More can not be here, do what you want, and then take me back, voyuy”. Inside I knew that anywhere he will not let go – restraint by any means, most importantly, to leave as soon as possible.
That night, we threw in a bag everything in sight and left. It was summer, hot, basically I took things easy, maybe some sweaters. All you will not collect.
Before we reached the border the fields, woods, passing a lot of posts, it was very scary: before this happened that the car was shot. When we crossed the border, including the mobile Internet, I started to look for who offers lodging, where we all go. Of the money we had hryvnia (and that the hryvnia in Russia?) And five thousand. Then I did not understand that it’s a penny.
For a fateful coincidence: one girl in the group VKontakte just a moment ago put his position, I was the first one who wrote it. It offers accommodation in the Domodedovo district of Moscow region, the village Uvarovo – holiday home, to ride out the summer. I wrote to her: “Can? We are already in Russia, we have a certain number, I’m in position, “and she replied:” Since you are the first – come. ” We got them through the night, we were very warmly welcomed. For the first time in a long time I slept peacefully, in silence, without fear for themselves and their children.
I would very much like to thank the family Kuznetsov, who we then stopped. They have helped us all, provided we still communicate. Initially, we thought that we would live with them only the summer, eventually stayed for almost a year. The house was not fit for winter living, all of us together to warm it. My husband persuaded me not to go, I knew that here it will be easier to make. What would I do here with two children and a third on the way?
For children, of course, the whole situation has affected, especially the eldest. She got used for a long time back to civilian life. We lived in a two-story guest house, close to the airport.
In the morning all wake up, we go out into the yard, and just fly the plane. Here Albina falls to the ground and closes hands a head. She heard a loud noise and thought it was a bombing, it is at school told how to behave.
My parents could not leave Ukraine. My grandmother is very ill and does not want to go anywhere, says: “I was born in war and die in war.” My husband’s parents were there, too. My mum about once every six months, comes a couple of weeks.
When we arrived, we found the information that FMS is necessary to issue a temporary shelter. There I was also very lucky. Just imagine: the summer heat, turn – a hundred, they all want to execute documents. there were several pregnant, not just me. So the young man and says: “Sorry, but Moscow can not you all take. Now I’ll let a few more people, and that we will complete the work today. ” I stand somewhere in the end, I understand that you no longer get there. And then the guy who stood in front of the crowd and had to go right now, turns around and says: “Girl, come for me.” That is an act, I was so grateful to him!
We have issued a temporary shelter, medical policies. I gave birth in the town of Vidnoye, there treated me very well, birth went fine. Surprisingly, the girl was born. When I was in the sixth month did ultrasound, the floor was not visible – the kid away. But I was so sure it’s a boy that did not think about it. When given birth, I have – “Sasha, Sasha …” (I wanted to name his son after my father), and I say, “You have a girl.” Naturally, the child – it is all the same happiness. So I am now mother of three girls.
My husband gradually found work in Moscow. I had to go in an organization where job offered podsobschika, security guard, he was going through, it was very hard to readjust to them on someone in command – but it was necessary to cross, otherwise we would simply starve. The pay her husband a little, so he decided to try taksovat. He is still a taxi to the apartment, food, school is more or less missing.
“Smile, you take off!”
To be honest, I did not think that I will continue to work in photography. There were difficult moments when I wanted to sell the camera, because there was no money to buy food. We have about six months eating pasta with stew. Not a bad meal, of course, but when it is every day … kids want candy, little need diapers.
She just wanted to howl in pain, I told my husband: “Come on, display ads, sell the camera.” He always reassured me: “I have earned …”. I was leaving for the night to earn some money to buy food. He was very supportive of me, “You still give then all odds!”
I gave birth in October 2014, and in December found out about the group in facebook “Assistance to refugees.” As written there, that I had the baby, it’s just a lot of feedback, they helped us a lot: to give up the crib and stroller, clothes for the baby and for all of us. When the husband was discharged from the machine, all these things, I was blown away. There were toys and books for children, they just danced with delight, then reinstall these books to the holes.
A group I met a wonderful girl, who returned me confidence in what I can still do photography. She says, “shoot me, I will show to others, and it will go there.” I have been with them in electronic form those photo shoots that I filmed in Ukraine, I posted them online. After Natasha, I met a girl who first ordered my shoot here in Moscow. I was so glad that she trusted me, let into the house. It seemed to Ukrainians are not much here, during pregnancy had heard anyone saying “you are here prёtes, Moscow is not rubber.” But even with good, open people I met constantly.
Regarding the photos I Napoleonic plans (laughs) . So far, the opportunity to develop, read something new only at night while everyone is sleeping. Most of all I like to do portrait photography, themed photo shoot coming up. Well it turns out to work with children – I keep practicing on their own, but also with other kids also know how to get along with.
I really want to change the equipment. Perhaps it will not happen soon, because it is expensive. I dream of my studio, I want to fully devote himself to photography. Naturally, the family in the first place, but among all that I have ever dealt with, photographing – my passion. We just got up from his knees, and I want to go further. I am very afraid that my children will live in poverty, so I will try to work hard.
Odd man out
I realized that there is no turning back when the house in a panic collected things. We left, and I knew that there is no longer return. I have no traction from home feeling that this is my home, and that I feel betrayed by the government.
Once we went on with the younger Affairs Ukraine. At the border we do not want to miss, because the daughter’s birth certificate in Russian and in the “citizenship” is blank. I explained in the registry office, that later, when she will receive a passport, she will be able to choose their nationality because born here. To have missed with this document, I had very much to ask.
All my family were happy to see me. Our city was deserted, it remained mostly retirees. Artwork is not, the youth departed, the more that is constantly declare conscription. Villas on the outskirts of destroyed, everything was empty, people are afraid to leave the house.
I was just four days, and immediately told my father that used to live in peace. By the time I forgot the feeling – when you hear a loud sound, feet are cold, your whole body binds horror. Once I heard something similar and was ready to grab a suitcase and run anywhere, and it’s just at the station wagons were unloaded. me too deeply sat down to fear – for themselves, for their children. I do not want to go back there anymore.
From the start, I lost a lot of friends, because to join the discussion on the topic “who is right and who is wrong.” They were watching TV and believe everything that is said there, and my husband had seen with their own eyes, who and where shoots. Now I try in this talk did not get involved. Several times my clients ask, “Which side are you on?” I answered: “Is it important?” – “No”. The conversation was over. I try to make them smile more in photos, like to shoot portraits emotionally alive, so that we are talking about something good.
And then we just live
I think that when my children grow up, about this period there will be a lot of things written entire books. Each party will own truth. I really want the kids to remember their grandparents tried to visit them. I want them to have had no negative attitude towards their homeland. I have been there, experience complex feelings and hope that they will not have this problem.
Because of what happened, I probably became a fatalist. This optimism was in front of me: I can not do anything with them, I believe that, in the end, all will be well!
The last two years have been so complicated that it was not possible to dream, but just to make plans for the future. All forces were given survival. But if the dream … I would very much like to fly somewhere. We never had a family abroad, and I really want to relax.
I do not believe that there will come a time when I lie down, relaxed, and my mind will not be thinking, “What? How? Where? What for?”.
I really want to feel relaxed euphoria from that nothing should not think, will not run. I want my children after all gone just rested.
Prepared by Veronica Zaets
Photo from personal archive of the author