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Documentary about refugees. "When we were sitting in the car, I felt like it was the last day of my life" — the story of a family from the Kyiv region

September 28, 2022, 19:25 487 life.nv.ua Together they adopted and raised 13 children.

Documentary about refugees

Documentary about refugees

Having no children together, Vitaly and Svitlana Afonina decided to adopt. Together they adopted and raised 13 children. At the time of February 24, there were five children with them, military planes were flying over the house, and a military unit was already burning in the neighboring village. How next? This is their story about the war, going abroad, revaluation of values and love for the homeland.

Vitaly Afonin is a retired doctor, in his 70s he and his wife Svitlana have been raising adopted children for the past ten years. In 2013, a family-type children's home was created on the basis of their house in the village of Svitylnia, Brovary district, Kyiv region.

"We raised 13 children. Our youngest boy was 10 years old. We started this process quite late - as the youngest of my parents, I was 50 years old at the time", Svitlana says.

For me, my children and others are still children. Native children grow up in families, and these children grow up in orphanages. They sometimes have a traumatized psyche, they are complex, you need to find an approach to them. My wife feels all this with her heart, and we, men, are completely different in this regard, but I found strength in myself", Vitaly admits.

At the beginning of 2022, five children lived in the family.

"We just lived wonderfully, in our own house, everything was enough for us. There was peace and calm", Svitlana recalls.

The family had a coordinated plan of work with the children: school, clubs, sports sections, leisure and holidays.

«When we were driving, we all reassured ourselves that the most important thing is health and life»

On February 24, the Afonin family was awakened by explosions: nearby in the village of Trebukhovi, the invaders hit a military unit. Russian forces moved quickly and captured nearby settlements.

"As a doctor, I will tell you that only mentally ill people are not afraid. At first we heard explosions from afar, but when the shells started flying over my house, I got scared. I took my children, my wife, my dog ??and we ran for shelter. 5 or 6 shells exploded not far from us," Vitaly says.

At first, the shelling was chaotic or aimed at military objects, but over time, the Russians increasingly targeted residential buildings and infrastructure. Neighboring villages had already been captured, and the probable fate of the village of Svitylnia was increasingly clear — occupation. The family decided to go.

"No one wanted to gather, no one believed. The man said that he could stay, maybe it would pass. But when we realized that our village might be occupied, battles were already going on in the nearby village - they could would break into the village. In the end, they listened to me. When we got into the car, I felt like it was the last day of my life," Svitlana recalls.

"I was scared when we passed the checkpoints. It seemed that there would be shooting, or suddenly a bomb would hit us. I asked God that we would reach Poland safely, so that nothing would happen to us and our parents", - shares Svitlana Volobuyeva, a pupil of the Afonin family.

About the future and returning to Ukraine

It was not easy for the family to move - Vitaliy and Svitlana were most concerned about how to better accommodate their children. As for themselves, they decided that they would be ready to adapt to any conditions. Now the family temporarily lives in the city of Dinksperlo in the Netherlands.

"I will come home anyway and save these children. I am responsible for them. My wife and I had no idea to stay somewhere abroad, to leave everything, the graves of our parents, our friends who remained in Kyiv", Vitaly says.

And he also understands the revaluation of values that has taken place and therefore calls to forget all the bad things, to try to live in a new way, to be polite and tolerant, not to blame each other for the fact that someone left and someone stayed, because everyone had their own circumstances.

"I would like to return to Ukraine when we win. I am ready to go back there even now, for some reason I don't like it here as much as at home. I think that Ukraine will 100% win, and in 10 years our country will be even more progressive, we will be a NATO country, and no one will be able to attack us", Oleksiy Glinyany, a member of the family.

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