The Kagarlytskyi clan narrowly escaped Russian occupation at Irpin, a Kyiv suburb.
They’ve finally returned home after three months of running, moving from one location to the next.
They’ve lost everything and now live in a train car as they try to reassemble their lives.
I was shown around their cramped cabin. After the train was converted to temporary accommodation, it is now home to up to 25 families.
The shower block is in one carriage, while the restaurant carriage provides three meals per day. This is a basic, but creative use of space in a place where so many people are homeless.
Mila Kagarlytski, Mila’s mother, says that “generally, the conditions are favorable.” We don’t know how long we will be here. We don’t know where we are going.
The Russians came as close to the capital as they could in this war by getting Irpin, a Kyiv suburb. They witnessed horrific horrors as bombs were dropped on their neighborhood.
Yevhen Kagarlytski, the father, said that they were “raking up trash and pulling out the injured.” “Literally, two minutes later we saw an aerial strike with our own eyes. We ran there for two or three minutes and began pulling people out.
Initialy, the family hid in a basement. But when Russian troops began to occupy the city, they decided to flee. They narrowly avoided the barbarism that followed.
“We left on March 4, – it was the last day we could travel by car. Mila said that all communication was cut the next day. “There were already Russian tanks at Irpin. We took the chance and drove our own car.
A devastation erupted in this region after the April mass exodus by Russian troops.
The horror stories of violence, aggression, and executions that were shared by those who stayed included harrowing accounts of abuse and brutality. Nearly 300 civilian bodies were found here, with a large number of them being women.
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Video of a young girl who was killed during the Russian strike’s last minutes
Some residents are slowly returning, but there is still danger. To protect themselves from further bombings, the windows of train carriages where they are now sleeping have been taped.
I asked the family what they had brought back, if they didn’t have anything to go home to. Their son Vlad was absent from school, and he missed his friends.
His school was bombed, and it is now the most damaged school in the region. Vlad tells Vlad about a friend who lived in a basement in Irpin during the Russian occupation.
It was so heartbreaking to hear the 12-year-old describe it. He would not be able talk about his experience anywhere else than back in Irpin, with his friends who have also been through it.
He proudly displayed the color set he received and stated that he enjoyed living on the train. This is a stark contrast to the summer vacations most children take.
Vlad spoke in a serious tone about the cat he had lost. He had saved his money to buy Alice. She survived the Russian occupation and their absence. Their bombed apartment building is now their daily home, where they feed her every day.
He invited us all to go with them. We followed the family car down roads dotted with bullet holes and damaged buildings, a chilling reminder of how this leafy suburb was terrorised in street-to-street fighting only a few years ago.
To reach Alice, the family has cleared the debris from the stairwell of their apartment block. Alice remains locked in their old home at the top floors. It was a relief to see Vlad smile wide and openly.
It is obvious that the cat’s family cares as much about their cat as you do. Nearly everyone you meet is affected by the war.
Everybody is doing their best.