On Saturday, September 2, 2023, one of the cemeteries in Kamatorsk was hit by a Russian Smerch missile.
In October last year I met Natacha on the main street of Lyman, one or two days after the liberation of the small town in the Donetsk region. She asks us for food all the time. When we gave her our plastic bag with bread and sausage, she ate it right away.
In early September this year (2023) I saw Natascha again in Lyman. Natascha has an intellectual disability and tells different stories at the same time. But what she told us now about her life is consistent with what she said then in October. She was born in Simferopol, the capital of Crimea. She lived there with her mother and her sister who left Crimea when she got married. In 2019, her mother died. Since then, Natascha often traveled alone between Crimea and Kiev to visit the Laura Church. On one of those trips, her phone, money and documents were stolen. Without documents, she could no longer cross the border with Crimea, occupied by Russia since 2014. Someone told her that it would be easier for her to reach Russia and therefore also Crimea via eastern Ukraine. That's how she ended up in Lyman, about 150 kilometers from Russia. She wandered there and in the surrounding area for months. Then the war started. Now she can't move at all. When we left her she asked: “Can't you take me to Crimea?”
Until the explosion of the Nova Kachovka dam, on the morning of June 6, 2023, this photo, taken in Malokaterynivka just south of the city of Zaporizhia, would have been blue and not green in color. The plain in the background was (is) here called the Sea of Kachovka. In fact a reservoir, length 240 kilometers, width 23 kilometers and average depth 8 meters. In one week, the reservoir emptied after the explosion. It is only one plant that has replaced the water, the Boxthorn plant.
The small town of Hulaipole, also Zaporizhia region, is located 6 kilometers from the Russian positions. Today is relatively quiet by here standards. That used to be different. The city actually no longer exists. The heaviest fighting here took place in May and October last year. Then the last doubters left. It is estimated that of the original 17,000 inhabitants, about a thousand remain. Now that summer is almost over, this is very visible. Roadsides and almost all gardens have become one big wilderness.