One day an elderly man came. He was limping and had nothing with him, just his jacket and documents, nothing else from home. And, not long after him, another woman, also elderly. Without a change of clothes, she just had what she was wearing, and the only memento from her house and her old life was a small bunny she hadn’t been able to bear leaving behind.
Alina, the principal of School “Number 1” in Chernivtsi, is moved as she tells these stories and shows us how in a few hours, she turned the
elementary and middle school she heads into a dormitory for about 60 people. She slowly lets us see that behind a certain coolness, an orderly well-structured organization, and behind apparent calm, there is an enormous trauma of an entire people, who lost everything from one day to the next, loved ones,
their homes, jobs…in a word, peace. But the will to keep going and not give up is extremely powerful. We get to the school gym. A carpenter used their skill to build bed frames by joining two pallets, and whatever mattresses could be found were put on them. An enormous blue and yellow flag welcomes us
at the entrance. A country, an identity, a homeland that everyone defends however they can. In the dormitory, no one complains, people talk little, they’re there with their lives in limbo. We end by going to see the bunker set up in the school’s basement. Under this large Austro-Hungarian building there’s a
bomb shelter for about 200 people. Everything is ready, waiting for something to happen, to change.
We go back to the office of VRB, the association that we are supporting with CUAMM. There’s always a line of people waiting for food bags to be delivered. The volunteers are very busy. Cell phones are constantly ringing with every kind of request. We are left with the impression of a society that wants to
resist and insists on living almost like normal but is ready for any change, even if for the worse.