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"Generation". Olena Grom documentary project

We continue to share the documentary projects of the finalists within the framework of the UAPF grant support for documentary photographers, implemented with the support of the International Press Institute.


Olena Grom works at the intersection of social reportage and conceptual photography. She works on the life of refugees and IDPs in the territory of active hostilities and in the de-occupied territories. The artist sees her "mission" in covering the lives of people who find themselves in the "grey zone" or the area close to military operations. The project "Generations" covers the lives and everyday life of children in the Kharkiv region.


Zlata lives with her parents in the Kharkiv region. Their village was under Russian occupation for eight months. The girl's house is located near the highway, which was used by Russian vehicles around the clock. It was scary in the house, so the girl's family lived in the basement for several months. They laid hay on the floor and slept on it, and warmed themselves with a stove. There was no electricity or communication in the village. More than a year has passed since the de-occupation and the memories of the horror of the war are dulled, but the war does not let us forget about it, sometimes we can hear the sounds of explosions in the village.


Yaroslav is in the first grade. He lives in a de-occupied village in the Kharkiv region. All children in the village study online. The boy loves math and dreams of becoming a soldier. In the first days of the full-scale offensive, the Russians shelled Yaroslav's village. More than half of the village went down to the basement of the school to hide from the shelling. A shell landed in the bomb shelter and killed a man on the spot, while another was seriously wounded and died in the hospital. The boy and his family were in the cellar of their house at the time. In total, Yaroslav's family spent several months in the cellar, without light and heat. Russian soldiers constantly came to the boy's house to search it. Every time they checked all the rooms and threw things out of the wardrobe - they were looking for someone.


Bohdan is 7 years old and in the second grade. Bohdan lives with her parents, brother, and sister in a de-occupied village in Kharkiv Oblast. Her favorite pastime is singing and dancing. But she cannot develop in this direction. The cultural club was destroyed and the children are unable to attend classes. In the first days of the war, the Russians shelled their village heavily. All the people were hiding in the basements, but a neighbor did not hide and died in his kitchen. On February 26, a shell hit his house.

People living in the village were forced to hide in basements and cellars for several months, without heat, light, communication, water, and basic necessities.


Sofia is in the second grade. Like the rest of the children in her village, the girl is enrolled in online education. Sofia likes to watch cartoons and draw. The girl, her older brother and parents live in a de-occupied village in Kharkiv region. They spent the entire time of the occupation in the village and saw Russian troops enter the village in March last year, and in September they fled under pressure from the Ukrainian military. The girl's house was damaged during the shelling, fortunately, Sofia and her family were in the basement at the time. Local residents are still recovering from the occupation.


Alyona is five years old. She goes to kindergarten and takes classes online. The girl loves her dog Tim and often draws him. Alyona's home is in the Kharkiv region, where it was almost impossible to leave during the occupation. Like most of the villagers, the girl's parents stayed in the village. Some of the locals did not want to leave their home, farm, and native places. Some thought it would end quickly. Some simply did not have time - but they all found themselves under occupation in the Kharkiv region. Sometimes they were able to leave, but under the minute threat of shelling. During the hostilities, Aliona was very afraid of the sounds of aircraft. Russian helicopters and airplanes often circled over their village, and the girl would seek shelter at those moments.


Serhii is in the 6th grade and dreams of being a police officer. He lives in a de-occupied village in the Kharkiv region. The boy and his parents stayed in their native village during the entire period of occupation. Near the village, the Russians built a military base where they stored and launched Tochka-U missiles, according to an investigation by Human Rights Watch. The village has suffered greatly from Russian aggression and occupation. It is impossible to imagine the fear the children experienced during the shelling.


Before the full-scale invasion, Anastasiia lived in Kharkiv with her mother Tetiana. In the first days of the war, Nastia was evacuated to Dnipro and later to Lviv. There, the girl learned that her mother had been killed. Nastia was taken in by a family-type orphanage, but Anastasia could not settle there. She was taken from there and adopted by a woman whom Nastia and her mother had known for a long time. This woman's name is also Tatiana. Now Nastia and her new family live in a de-occupied village in Kharkiv region.


Sofia and her brother live in a village in the Kharkiv region. Her village was under Russian occupation for almost 8 months. The girl and her family spent the first months of the war in the basement, hiding from shelling. During the fighting, Sofia often heard shells and rockets flying over the house. After the de-occupation, it became quieter, but sometimes you can still hear distant sounds of fighting or rocket attacks. Despite the difficult period in the girl's life, she is growing up to be a cheerful and inquisitive child. Sofia is in the 4th grade. She is interested in art and draws, and she adores her hamster Khoma.

Margarita spent the entire period of the Russian occupation at home in a village in the Kharkiv region. The girl is in the second grade at an online school. In the settlements that are in close proximity to the front, schools do not work and all children are transferred to online education. Civilian objects, including kindergartens, are popular targets for Russians. Kindergartens and schools in many Ukrainian cities have been destroyed by Russians. The situation in the Kharkiv region is difficult, as the region is constantly under enemy fire. Under such extraordinary conditions, only some kindergartens have opened part-time groups, and children are mostly attending online classes.


Viktoriia lives with her older brother and parents in a de-occupied village in the Kharkiv region. The girl is interested in history and loves to draw. She helps her mother take care of rabbits. During the occupation, their cow fell ill and they could not get access to a veterinarian. The cow died, and the family was grieving for their pet. One day, Russian soldiers found a stray cow in the forest. Probably, its owners had died or abandoned it to escape the war. The Russians captured the cow and brought it to Viktoriia's mother, telling her to take care of it. A few weeks later, the Russians returned and wanted to shoot the animal right in the yard. Viktoriia's mother pleaded: "We're in the center of the village, don't shoot! There are many children living around here." They tied the cow to the car and drove off to the landing. The poor animal was drifting from side to side. The cow fell on its paws, moaned and roared. Viktoriia's mother was also crying at the sight. The Russian soldiers who occupied Viktoriia's village were particularly cruel. The houses of local residents were constantly searched. One morning on August 29, they came to the girl's house. The soldiers asked Vika's parents, "Are you the ones who are giving the coordinates?" After that, they started searching the house. They entered the room of the sleeping girl and pulled the machine guns. Vika's mother started asking them not to scare her daughter. The soldiers grabbed Vika's father and brother and took them outside. They put a gun to her brother's forehead, threatening to kill him, and took her father into a car and tortured him with electricity.


Rostyslav lives with his parents in the Kharkiv region. His village was occupied for 8 months. Recalling the occupation, Rostyslav's mother says that military vehicles were passing through the village, and there were thousands of Russians. There was no electricity or communication, shops were closed. We ate whatever we had in stock. We hid from the shelling in the cellar. Rostyslav's house was damaged during the shelling. Rostyslav came under fire several times. Once he and his mother were walking in the center of the village and the shelling started with hail. People fell on the road and lay there until it was over. Rostyslav's school was destroyed, so he studies online. The boy likes to ride his bike and dreams of giving Ukrainian soldiers a drone to protect them from the Russians.


The boy lives with his mother and hamster Persik in a village in Kharkiv Oblast.


Vanya is fond of electronics and dreams of becoming a blogger. There are no clubs or hobby activities in the village. The only source of information for the boy is the Internet. Vanya's school was destroyed, so he is studying online in the fifth grade. The boy's house was also damaged during the shelling. In the first months of the full-scale offensive, he and his mother hid from shelling in the cellar. The locals tried to stay away from the Russian military. The Russians were constantly begging for something from the locals, either a rope, a pot, an ax, or looking for moonshine. Sometimes the soldiers would stop near locals and started clicking the shutter, intimidating people.


Before the full-scale offensive, Vanya lived in Izyum with his older sister and parents. The Russians started shelling Izyum from the first day of the offensive. To hide from the shelling, people were hiding in basements. On March 3, a bomb fell on their house. The boy's parents were in the house, and Vanya and his sister were in the basement. The mother was thrown by the blast wave and received a mild contusion, the father was wounded by a piece of shrapnel and was unconscious for a long time. Vanya's house was completely destroyed, but her parents miraculously survived. For several days, the family stayed with friends, and on March 6, they evacuated to another village in Kharkiv region to their relatives. At the time, this village was under the control of Ukraine. But later it was occupied by Russian troops. The boy's family found themselves under occupation. One summer, Vanya and his family were digging potatoes in the garden when a Russian plane flew overhead. The boy and his sister fell to the ground and could not get up for a long time. Having had a traumatic experience, they were afraid that the plane would start bombing. The children burst into tears and asked their mother to take them away from the village. On August 15, they left for Lutsk and returned to the village after the de-occupation. Despite the fact that the frontline has moved away from the village, the sounds of battle sometimes reach Vanya's house.


Vare is 13 and dreams of becoming president. Her school was destroyed, and she, like all the other children in the village, cannot get a full education. Varya lives in a large family, she has 3 brothers and two older sisters. They live in a de-occupied village in the Kharkiv region. The family stayed at home throughout the occupation. Kolya's fourteen-year-old brother was wounded in the back by a cluster shell. The boy underwent a complicated spinal surgery and survived. The younger brother, who was 4 years old, knew well that when the shelling started, he had to jump under the wall, and if the shelling intensified, he had to move to the cellar. During the hostilities, Varya's house was damaged. Currently, the girl's parents are trying to establish a normal life and repair the house.

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