By Steve Richards
Tragedy and hope. Like Jesus on the cross in a way.
I know, Easter was last Sunday. And like a good Protestant from the USA I celebrated. Unlike most though I celebrated in Bucha with a bowl of chicken soup cooked over an open fire rather than the traditional brunch normally reserved for the occasion. Where in fact it wasn't Easter at all it turns out.
What I've learned since coming to Ukraine in late March is that Ukrainians are predominantly of the Orthodox denomination. So Ukrainians were mostly celebrating Palm Sunday last Sunday (I suppose anyway as there were no palm fronds to be seen but rather some type of budding branches). Over here, today is Easter, the 24th of April. In fact, at midnight last night, as I awaited a sleeper train in a blacked out train station somewhere between Kyiv and Lviv, the host of the waiting room tuned in a live midnight mass of an Orthodox ceremony.
But still, my Easter was last Sunday. And it was the most unusual Easter I'm sure I'll likely ever spend. I celebrated at the church that we have all seen on the news where the mass graves were dug. Trenches dug largely to bury those killed by Russian soldiers.
It was a very chilly day spent largely outdoors that included rain, sleet, even a bit of snow in a field kitchen in the parking lot of an apartment building that I spent a lot of time in. Later that day they had power restored after almost two months, but that meal took nearly three hours and fed more than a dozen. I even helped peel the potatoes.
The sites and memories of the atrocities in Bucha are ever present to those that live there and are included in this video installment. They speak for themselves and many are from the day before when I got a tour of the horrors from someone that experienced it directly. My guide, insurance agent Igor Zaderholova was bound and blindfolded in his ransacked apartment for two days and shot in the leg by an armored personnel carrier before being evacuated five days later.
Our finished documentary will delve into all this in much more depth and appreciation for what happened. Today though it is a time for celebration and hope.
Happy Easter from Bucha.