A Ukrainian teenager has turned to art to help deal with the trauma of the Russian invasion.
When a missile hit one of the residential buildings in the besieged city of Mariupol in early March, 14-year-old Karina Ivashchenko took out a pen and a notebook and started to draw.
She said that it not only helped distract her from the war outside but soon became her coping mechanism while living under bombardment by the enemy forces.
‘I drew my fears. I was afraid of the war. I was afraid when they shot in the streets. We were sitting in the basement, all the walls were shaking,’ Ivashchenko said.
Together with their neighbours, Ivashchenko and her family took shelter in the basement of their apartment for almost two weeks.
They have since escaped to Poland.
Amid the noise of air raid sirens, approaching planes, and shelling Ivashchenko found refuge through her art.
Ivashchenko portrayed herself as a cartoon character in her drawings, expressing her feelings, thoughts, and experiences.
Some of her illustrations tell of the sounds she heard, while others depict scenes of everyday life in Ukraine.
During the time the Ivashchenko family were sheltering in the basement, they had no electricity, heating or water supply.
Ivashchenko added: ‘When I came out of the basement into the street, all the houses were on fire. Black smoke everywhere. All houses, all glass – it was simply gone. It was very scary. I have never seen anything like it. It was hell.’
Ivashchenko, her mother, grandmother, and grandfather were among those who managed to escape Mariupol and reach safety in the Polish city of Krakow.
Ivashchenko’s father, however, had to stay behind.
Nearly 5,000 people, including about 210 children, have been killed in the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol since Russian forces laid siege to it, a spokesperson for the mayor said on Monday.
Russia denies targeting civilians and blames Ukraine for repeated failures to agree on safe corridors for trapped residents.
Russia says it is carrying out a ‘special operation’ to disarm and ‘denazify’ Ukraine.
For the first time in a while, the feeling of safety has returned and there is ‘no need to draw anymore,’ said Ivashchenko.