“A bomb nearly hit our baby”

Published: 7 December 2015 17:40 CET

By John Engedal Nissen / IFRC

It was a sunny and beautiful day. Natalia Sidorenko, 33, was taking a stroll with her three children, when a bomb suddenly struck nearby. Natalia could hear how the shrapnel flew into the bushes beside her, before one of them flew just over her baby’s pram in front of her. Her son, Rustik, was in the pram.

“I was totally in shock. I didn’t know how to protect my kids, and my hands were shaking,” Natalia says.

The risk of staying in their hometown Snejnoe in the Donetsk region was too high. Natalia and her husband, Roman, 30, decided to finally flee after a month of armed conflict in their city. By this time they had already barred the windows of their house with wood. They slept and ate on the floor to be better protected from stray bullets and bombs. At night they would cover their children with pillows and blankets to protect them from shattering glass in case of a nearby explosion.

“We lived our lives on that floor. We went to sleep not knowing if we would wake up the next day. We had to live with that fear. We could not let the kids stay inside all the time, so we had to let them play outside and then quickly bring them inside whenever the bombings began,” Natalia explains.

“We never thought this would happen to us, but we became experts in discerning types of bombs, and our kids knew they had to throw themselves on the ground whenever they heard explosions. Their bodies would shake in fear. It was very scary.”

The family fled to several places before arriving at Slovyansk in the Donetsk Region of Eastern Ukraine, a place they now call home. Here Red Cross has provided them with food, heaters, blankets, pillows and other essential needs.

“We had nothing. Not even clothing for our children. The Red Cross provided us with the most necessary items. It helped us get by,” she says.

1.4 million people are internally displaced in Ukraine. The Red Cross provides the most vulnerable people with food, access to health, safe accommodation, hygiene kits and non-food items. The IFRC has launched an emergency appeal of nearly 20 million Swiss francs to support the humanitarian response of the Ukrainian Red Cross Society.