Today, Alla visits her hometown of Odessa with children who fled Mariupol and Kherson. I brought them candy and toys. It’s one of the many things Alaa has done since the outbreak of the war.
But she is above all a “repairer”. This is the person who helps international journalists in their work. She speaks Russian, Turkish and English fluently, so she can help with translation. She can also make contacts with journalists and take them to different places. Remarkably, she’s been doing it in high heels a hundred days ago.
“I often go to the front line in Mykolaiv,” Alla said by phone. “Even then, I wear high heels and prefer colorful dresses as much as possible. I notice that it makes people happy. They need a little light in these dark times. I feel my responsibility to keep wearing these.”
Before the war, Alaa worked as a manager in the import business and also gave private English lessons to young people. I also sometimes worked as a translator. All that work is over, but with her language and organizational skills, she’s found a new job: fixer.
“The Son Knows: The Sirens Are Hiding”
She went to work, while her mother took care of her children at home. Not much has changed for them because of the war, says Alaa. “They are pursuing distance education, but they are already used to it because of Corona.”
She is now vacationing in Ukraine and she has her daughter (11) and her son (4) a lot of free time. “We try to let them live as normally as possible. My daughter is old enough to understand what’s going on. I tell her everything.”
It’s different for her son. But: “He understands what the siren means. When the siren goes off, he knows we must go down the hall.” Since they live on the eighth floor, the shelter is very far away.
He hopes that the war will not end soon, but it has enough energy to last for a long time. “I’ve never gotten this much satisfaction from my work.”
Timo: From Photographer to Commander
Timo is the commander of a small military unit. It is preferable not to mention the city he is in now for security reasons. Now that the Russians have withdrawn from large parts of the country, his unit is helping understaffed police keep the streets safe. They are also tracking Russian spies.
Commander Timo had no military experience when the war began. was a photographer. He says he was sleeping peacefully when the explosions woke him up. “I called my friends who told me that Kyiv was being bombed.”
Timo brought his girlfriend and father to safety, but he did not flee himself. “The choice to fight was easy. Explaining to my parents and girlfriend that I wasn’t going was much more difficult.”
Report Timo to the nearest town council. He immediately began working as a soldier. Only two weeks later he was promoted to commander of a twenty-man unit. Timo talks about the chaos of that period.
“We had to defend the military depots, but we didn’t even have any flak jackets or helmets. Just some guns and grenades. That period was really scary. When you hear an explosion, you don’t know what to do. You just freeze.”
‘I got used to the war’
This is exactly what the Hundred Days of War has changed. “Hearing the gunshots, feeling the explosions… you get used to it. Now I’m not afraid anymore. Only someone from my unit or my friends will die.”
He hopes that the war will not escalate again, because then he will have to return to the front. What does he hope for? “I hope the sky becomes peaceful again. Ukraine wins. I get a good job looking after my family.”
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