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My beloved uncle died because of the lack of medical help
Victoria Simson, athlete
Victoria in the cellar
My friend called at 5 am on the 24th: “Bombs!” I said: ‘Oh come on, it can’t be!” But then I went out to the balcony and saw people starting to leave.

A metal door was blasted off its hinges by an aviation strike and landed on my foldout bed

My mother died in 2019, and I lived with my bedridden uncle and took care of him. Our apartment building emptied out really fast, and there were maybe 15 people remaining. On the first day, I did not quite realize the severity of the situation. I ran down to the basement and then rushed back to feed my uncle. He had a catheter after two hospital stays. It was really scary: the doctors could not come to us, and he started developing bed sores.

Residential building in Northern Saltovka, Kharkiv after shelling on March 3, 2022
The evacuation of Victoria and her uncle
More people left every day, and they left behind food, which made me feel terrible. The apartment windows were blown out, there was no heating, the wall was torn up by a blast wave, and in the basement where I slept, the metal door was blasted off by the shockwave of an aviation strike and landed on my foldout bed, which was fortunately empty at the time.

There was constant bombing, but it was impossible to carry my uncle down to the basement, so I ran up to him three times a day. I made liquid meals in a blender, but he needed a special medical nutrition blend mix that nobody delivered, since we had ended up in the epicenter of it all.

They were shooting from machine guns and from tanks… When the bombing caught me in the apartment, I hid between load-bearing walls. By that point, there were maybe five of us left out of approximately 300 residents. My uncle’s condition was worsening; he had recovered from pneumonia just a short while before this.

We got medications once after a two week wait, and they were not enough. They brought a urinary catheter, but it was impossible to switch it out. No doctor wanted to come to us, even the ones from the Red Cross. In the end, that lack of medical help led to my uncle’s death.

I called every organization and submitted evacuation requests… In the end, we got evacuated through a “Jewish” organization and took us to Poland in an ambulance car. However, they refused to pick us up from home, as it was too dangerous, but luckily volunteers brought us to Hospital #4, and the ambulance was waiting for us there. All of this was under bombing. There were corpses lying on the road. One had its leg torn off. There were shot out cars… I just ducked down in the end, as it was so scary.

We escaped by some miracle and were on the road for almost 24 hours, with no stops.

We made it to Warsaw too late…

In Poland we were met by the representatives of the Sokhnut Jewish Agency, and my uncle was immediately taken by the local ambulance, but it was too late, sadly. He had fluid in his lungs, and he died in the hospital five days later. He was buried in Warsaw, in the Jewish cemetery. My uncle was like a father to me, the last person I felt close to…

Volunteers brought us to Hospital #4, and the ambulance waited for us there. All of this was under shelling. There were corpses lying on the road, and one was with their leg torn off; there were shot out cars… I just ducked down in the end, as it was so scary
I had to make a choice between Israel and Germany, and I repatriated approximately 10 days after the funeral. I don’t regret it for a moment. I feel very comfortable in Israel. I was welcomed with open arms. I enjoy learning Hebrew. I am looking for a part-time job, but language first!

I really wish the war would end and I could live in Israel without any qualms, knowing that I can fly to Ukraine. Even if I came back for a week, that would give enough memories for a year. I was born there and I grew up there. It’s where I went to school and spent time with my friends.

There are lots of immigrants from Russia in my ulpan, but I don’t hate them. After all, they did not participate in this nightmare, and it made them leave the country. But people who are currently hiding from shelling in Ukraine have a right to that hatred.

Instead of a postscript

It has been a year since my uncle died. There was a ceremony in Poland. They put up a memorial with a sign in Ukrainian and a Ukrainian flag, per my request. The Jonny Daniels Foundation covered all the expenses.

I graduated from Ulpan Bet and am working a little bit. I am only now beginning to emerge from the stress and shock caused by the war.

I miss Ukraine tremendously and will definitely come for a visit, but all in due course. I live in Akko and have found many friends. Sometimes I feel like I know everyone here, as the city is pretty small. In short, Israel is smiling upon me, and I smile in return.

The grave of Leonid Teslenko, Victoria's uncle
The testimony was chronicled on April 27, 2022

Translation: Dr. Mariya Gyendina