Interview with the Klochko Family from Kharkiv, featuring in 'In Ukraine: As My Heart Yearns' curated by Ira Lupu, part of the free Wembley Park Art T

Klochko Family from Kharkiv

Volodymyr Klochko, 69 y., Kharkiv. Retired, former firefighter. Tetyana Klochko, 66 y., Kharkiv. Retired. Volodymyr’s wife. Artem, 10y., grandson.

Interviewed on April 17, 2022

[Volodymyr’s story]

I have lived in Kharkiv for almost 70 years, but I have never seen such horror, even after the Second World War.

February 23rd was the day of our anniversary: we have lived together for 48 years; yet it seems that we haven’t lived much. The next day the war began. We have a difficult situation with our grandson, he was born with cerebral palsy. That’s why we took the most necessary things, I bought some fuel for the car, and we drove to subway station in order to hide from bombings. The conditions there were terrible, so we slept on the platform floor. A week later we decided to move forward, because staying in the subway was dangerous. The station was not very deep, and in case of a missile targeting it, it could possibly be destroyed.

We spent some time in the suburbs, at our friends’ house. Later the house we were sheltering in was bombed. We stayed in the basement for two more days, and then went further.

[Tetyana’s story]

First we went to the Dnipropetrivsk region, then we took an evacuation train to Lviv. There were 18 people in the train car department (originally it was suited for 4 people - tr.), the lights were off, we were not notified of the stations we were passing by. Somewhere near Lviv we had to go off the train. We were told that we could take evacuation buses to the border. While we were setting up our son’s wheelchair, all the buses were full. We stood in the middle of a town, not knowing where to go and what to do. I cried. Some local man came up to us and offered help in getting to the border. While on the road, we managed to contact a volunteer, who gave us advice to go to that shelter. They gave us a very warm reception, and we began trying to organize our life here.

The only thing I still cannot understand is - what is all this horror for? We keep running and running, but where are we running to? Are we running from them or from ourselves?...

In Ukraine: As My Heart Yearns curated by Ira Lupu

“In Ukraine: As My Heart Yearns,” is a continuation of an international photography series started in March 2022 showcasing Ukraine’s past and present and includes pastoral archival imagery and recent refugee portraiture by Yana Kononova, Ira Lupu, Paraska Plytka-Horytsvit and Elena Subach and Helen Zhgir. It also features the work of internationally acclaimed documentary photographer Yelena Yemchuk.