Poignant photos show last remains of ‘normal’ everyday life in rural Ukrainian village

The small villages of Shehyni and Hrushiv contrast to war-torn cities of Kyiv and Mariupol
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A series of photos showing the last remains of ‘normal’ everyday life in a rural Ukrainian village are a stark contrast to footage of the country’s now bombed-out cities.

Freelance photographer Marco Sacco, originally from Italy, has shared dozens of snaps from Shehyni and Hrushiv, beside the Polish border in Western Ukraine.

The images were taken between 15-22 March 2022 – just weeks after Russian soldiers launched attacks on Ukrainian citizens in Kyiv.

A woman drinks bottles of local wine and homemade vodka in Shehyni, western Ukraine (Picture: Jam Press)

With images of Ukraine now akin to ruined cities, shell-shocked refugees and burned-out tanks, Saccos’s set features a colourful slow pace of country life in Shehyni.

It offers a glimpse into what life was like for the country before military action, with even the bright blue sky contrasting to the haunting grey engulfing war-torn cities like Kyiv, Mariupol and Donetsk.

Children are seen riding their bicycles around their neighbourhood, free from the presence of Russian soldiers marching the streets.

Misha and Ilona Kalyta pose for a family portrait in their country home, holding a picture decorated with beads made by Mrs. Kalyta (Picture: Jam Press)

Another snap reveals a middle-aged woman dining outdoors in her garden with bottles of local wine and homemade vodka while listening to the singing of the birds.

A girl can be seen leaving an outdoor toilet near a farmhouse, safe in the knowledge she will be able to leave the facility without fear of her life.

Other photos show children playing with wooden rifles and toy guns, as the topic of war plagues childhood innocence, while elsewhere citizens are leisurely chopping wood in their unshelled gardens.

A girl uses the outdoor toilet, near the sheepfold, of Misha and Ilona’s country house (Picture: Jam Press)

In the nearby village of Hrushiv, with a population over 2,000, time remains untouched.

Villagers continue to transport themselves around with horse and carts, while war rages on elsewhere in the country.

But one local named Ivan Prujma, who goes by Ivan the Avenger on Facebook, anticipates war on his doorstep.

Local Ivan Prujma in his house holds two loaded rifles (Picture: Jam Press)

Posing with two loaded rifles he says: “I am ready to fight. I am ready to defend my homeland and to die for my land.”

It is not known how long these villagers have left to enjoy the niceties of their surroundings.

On 24 February, 44 million Ukrainians woke up to the nightmare of Russia’s invasion of their homeland.

Children play war with wooden rifles and toy guns (Picture: Jam Press)

According to the United Nations, over 10 million Ukrainians have fled their homes since the war.

Approximately 4.3 million have left the country, with another 6.5 million are thought to be displaced inside the country itself.

Yesterday (13 April), international experts proclaimed to have found evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity by Russia in Ukraine.

In an initial report from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation and Europe (OSCE) cited attacks on schools and hospitals – including the attack on a maternity ward in Mariupol on 9 March – as war crimes.

A farmer with his flock in the rural community (Picture: Jam Press)
A man chops wood in the countryside (Picture: Jam Press)
Marianna Kostiuk, the director of the secondary school of the town, with an orphan (Picture: Jam Press)