College girls whose hometown became a battleground…Ukraine “People living in the war zone | FRIDAY DIGITAL

College girls whose hometown became a battleground…Ukraine “People living in the war zone

Photo reportage , A master reopens a bar under an air raid warning, a late-night music concert breaking a curfew, a homeless man with a military support ribbon ......

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A father and son asked to have their family photo taken in front of their home destroyed by shelling. As I walked around with my camera, many people talked to me, as if they wanted to communicate the current situation to the media (May 29, in Irpin).

My first visit to Ukraine was at the end of May, when it was still chilly. After a 15-hour bus ride from Warsaw in neighboring Poland, I arrived in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine. Three months had passed since the Russian military invasion, and the bus was full of people returning from evacuation.

In June, we traveled 460 km further east to Khalkhiu. By the end of August, I had interviewed about 100 people and was surprised by the grim expressions on their faces.

Ukraine did not have its own state until the collapse of the Soviet Union. In its history since the Middle Ages, the country has been overrun by various “empires,” including the Mongols, the Russian Empire, Austria, and Nazi Germany, and has been forced to endure a long period of subjugation. Even homeless people were seen wearing ribbons on their wrists praying for the victory of the Ukrainian army, saying, “If we lose the war, we will lose our nation. We will not run away. We will fight and win against Russia.

During the war, the country had many faces. A bar master who quickly reopened his store for the local residents, young people having street sessions in a residential area under curfew ……. The faces were grim, but the streets were alive with small activities. No matter how much the Russian army destroys the city, it cannot destroy the heart. People are much bigger than war. I muttered to myself as I stood in a town that still bore the scars of war in places.

The master of the restaurant said, “We reopened the restaurant for the sake of everyone in the community as soon as possible. He runs a café-bar that serves coffee and alcohol.
A curfew is in effect after 10 pm. Many people evacuated to neighboring cities such as Poltava, and a group of three young people were having a session in a quiet residential area at night (August 12, in Halkiu).
A woman enjoying tea time with tea, cherry jam, bread, and fruit laid out on the table spoke in stagnant Russian, but in the middle of filming, she became emotional and began to cry (August 12, in Halkiou).
While chatting in the smoking area with a local young man I met at a bar, he began to tell me that he had been discharged from the army after being wounded in a battle in the Donbass region. He showed me the large scar on his head (in Halkiu, June 8).
She is an 18-year-old woman attending a university in the city center to study IT. Her parents’ house is right next to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, and she lamented that she will not be able to return home (Kyiv, May 25).
When we went to the banks of the Dnipro River, we saw a group of three men and three women playing in the water, tipsy. An air raid alarm was sounding around us in Kyiv on August 7.
A homeless man asked me to buy him dinner. He was in a good mood when I gave him a cigarette. On his wrist was a yellow and blue ribbon wishing victory for the Ukrainian army in Kyiv on May 31.

From the November 25, 2022 issue of FRIDAY

  • Photography and text by Hisato Kawashima

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