Date:Mon, 6 Aug 2001 07:58:10 -0700 (PDT)
From: Nataliya Yaroshenko
Subject: from Natasha

Chapter 5

I was surprised when saw a lot of little children playing in the wide corridor. They were noisy, joyful like all the healthy kids. They talked in a strange language. Later I found out that they were children from Chechnya.

I was shown into the room where a mother with her sons lived. One son was 15, other - 19. The woman was not happy that I was going to live with them, but the camp was overcrowded and no one could help.

There were plank beds in 2 floors too. It reminds me my last night...

The older boy gave the low plank bed for me. I thanked him. I was glad not to climb up in my 45 years old. And I still had the tracks after my falling at the previous night.
After I put off my jacket, Zina, that woman, asked me to have supper. I showed her my bag with food but she insisted to have her food, too. She was so hospitable that I felt better. I asked her a lot about the camp, about people there. She was so patient with me telling me everything is details. I noticed she would like to talk more but I was so tired.

I liked the shower there. There was the running hot water and I didn't need to ignite the gas column like in my Ukrainian city. Though those people who had gas columns were lucky in Ukraine. Because the block of flats with the running hot water had only cold water at the season when the central heating didn't work. In the summer and in warm time of spring and autumn it was the problem of people how to wash themselves and their kids.

As always I woke up early in the morning. Everyone was sleeping. Trying not to wake up my roommates I went out. You won't believe but it was a real fairy-land place. Do you know what sweet air the forest in the spring is?

How beautiful and shapely tall spruce and pine trees were! The birds sang so loudly, so wonderful and the echo embellished their singing. I walked around that camp area and noticed a little girl, swinging alone in the kids swing. She looked at me with interest. I was a newcomer. I came up to her and we began to talk. She offered me to walk around the camp with her. I will never forget this kid of eleven. Her Russian was poor but I could understand her. It was a very sweet and polite girl. She told me a lot about her life in Chechnya and in the camp for refugees neat their country.

I remember her words: ...We came here without my elder sister. She was killed during the bombing. She was 17. She loved me very much. I am the youngest kid in the family. I miss her. I won't see her any more... My other sister wants to have a plastic surgery as her face has tracks after the fire.

...There in the Ingush camp (the country near Chechnya) was so cold. I was always cold at nights where I slept. My mom put a lot of clothes that served me like mattress but the ground was cold in autumn and in winter. I woke up several times at night. I couldn't warm myself.

...Once I asked my mother to let me go to my granny for a few days to sleep in the warm bed. But my granny scolded me when I cried in the cellar during the bombing. My granny lives near Grozny (the capital of Chechnya). They bombed that granny's village sometimes, too. My granny told me not to cry. Or I had to return to the camp. My granny's bed was warm, big and soft....

...That winter several children died. I was sick too, my mother prayed a lot and I am living... Those children wouldn't die if they had the warm places to sleep...

...My last birthday was bad. I wanted candies. My mother gave me more sugar for my tea on my birthday. First it was good when we arrived at that camp in Ingushecia. They gave us more sugar. Later only 0,5 kg for a person for a month. Later they didn't give us sugar at all. I will have my birthday soon. It will be a nice birthday this time. You don't think that they didn't have sugar to give us. They got help from many countries but they sold everything to have money

... This all I heard from the little girl that was going to be 11. Later I saw her sister with the burnt face. She was about 15, I think.

Before breakfast I asked Zina to tell me why and what the war in Chechnya was. She told me a little then: What do you know about this war? Nothing!? Yes, the world doesn't know about this war. We are inside the former USSR. The Russian government doesn't want anybody to know that they want the Chechen land without people. Our land is very rich with oil petroleum. Our mountains are rich with gold and other minerals. Our soil is very rich for plants. They used to take from us everything. They did not allow our language. They tried to suppress our customs, traditions. But we spoke our language, we were keeping our customs and traditions. We wanted to be independent like all the republics of the former USSR. Then they began the first war in 1994. Now there is the second war.... The woman burst of crying. She lost a lot of relatives, friends. She lost everything. Only later she could me tell more.

============== to be continued...chapters: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7


children's war pictures One girl brought me a picture where a soldier is seen from the tank and smiles. And in front of him is the house in the fire. I asked her why the soldier is smiling. She answered that when Russian soldiers killed their people and fired - they smiled or laughed. This girl is 8 years old. And one girl brought me a picture of a girl watering the flowers and above her flies the plane and throws the bombs. A lot of bombs but the girl doesn't see... The bombs are above her falling down. And the sun is shining, the flowers are so beautiful. One girl draws some dead people and little children among them.