Ukraine Stories: ‘It’s a shame for children who are still born’

This text comes from the “Ukraine Stories” project launched by the English-speaking partner of “Time” Geneva Solutions, which deals with international Geneva. It is about supporting and publishing the work of dozens of Ukrainian and Russian journalists who have lost their job or their media but not their know-how.

A crowdfunding campaign covered the first two months of the project. If you want to support him for the future, write info[at]

I met Yana through my new roommates, Nastya and Bogdan. I come from kyiv, they from Kharkiv, but we all took refuge in a house in western Ukraine. Between them, they have many doctor friends, including Yana Krylenko, who has been a gynecologist for 32 years at the Kharkiv Regional Perinatal Center.

“Our maternity ward is close to the center and the situation changes every day, Yana explains to me on the phone from her workplace, sometimes the fighting is very close to us.”

35 kilometers from the Russian border, Kharkiv is one of the most destroyed cities in the country. On February 24, it rained missiles, and two days later Russian tanks entered the city of 1.5 million people. Today, the city is partially besieged.

There are few patients, but even fewer doctors. “Few pregnant women are still here but we are ready for force majeure. The mothers give birth in the delivery room, then go down with the baby to the basement,” she says.

In the operating room, the windows are covered with plastic sheeting so that broken panes do not injure doctors, mothers or their infants. “The block continues to operate. It’s only if there’s a lot of noise outside that we go down to the basement,” explains Yana.

Given the impossibility of traveling between home and the workplace twice a day, since March, the staff has adapted its schedules. He works two days in a row at the hospital and rests for the rest of the week. The day I speak with Yana, the tram tracks in Kharkiv are dismantled following a Russian bombardment. I ask her if she is not afraid that the same fate awaits the hospital.

“In March, a piece of artillery shattered the windows of the examination room but luckily no one was injured,” she says in a calm voice, as if this sort of thing happens in all maternity wards. of the world.

The last attack in the center of Kharkiv is recent, it dates from May 3. Yet Yana still refuses to leave town. “My children fled to Kropyvnytskyi, in the center of the country, but my husband, my mother and I want to stay. People need us here. It’s as if the doctors are mobilized. Even if nobody asks us, we are useful, and she adds, I don’t want a medal, I just want to be at home.

Just like Russian tanks, fear doesn’t seem to linger in Kharkiv. While ten days ago the mayor of the city confirmed the destruction of a third of the houses in the city, Yana simply replies that there is always a racket. She explains: “We quickly understood that if there is a whistle, you have to lie down on the ground, but if there is a thundering sound, it is our Ukrainian army. It’s a good sign.”

I think I can hear Yana pulling on her cigarette through the handset. I ask her what she plans to do when the war is over. She takes a long pause, the first since the beginning of our conversation. Her voice quivers and she explodes, “I want to strangle them all. They must take responsibility for their actions. Today, at one o’clock in the morning, a wonderful couple arrived, a very nice man and his wife, young, beautiful, with a full-term pregnancy. They didn’t ask for any of this and some monsters dare to ruin their lives. It is a pity for the children who are born.”

Oleksandra Ambroz is a television journalist in Kyiv. She was recently evacuated to western Ukraine. Translation and adaptation: Aylin Elci

Read the full article at Geneva Solutions (in English)

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