KHERSON — The sound of children’s footsteps echoed along a school hallway in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson as pupils gathered to board a coach marked “Evacuation”.
Mr Gennadiy Grytskov, 43, decided to flee his Kherson suburb last month, after a missile hit his sister’s house, killing her 6-year-old son and wounding her 13-year-old son.
He now lives on the site of a former boarding school in Mykolaiv, some 70 kilometres to the northwest.
“It was a tragedy. When we fled, we just took my documents and the children’s clothes, that’s all,” he said, sitting on a makeshift bed.
The smell of stewed cabbage from a canteen pervaded the corridors of the building, now a temporary reception point for displaced people.
He shares a classroom converted into a bedroom with his five children, including a son who has a disability, and his 62-year-old mother, Ms Lyubov.
Sitting close to her son, she showed a picture of her dead grandson on her phone.
“We were supposed to celebrate my son’s birthday that day. My grandson had told me he wanted to go to school, that he wanted to learn to write. He never got to go,” she said, in tears.
Despite all this, she hopes to go back home one day.
“My home is my home,” she said, wiping away a tear. AFP