Volleyball supporter Dasha Stozhok, 20, believed that Russia would never go to war with neighboring Ukraine. In recent years, she and her family have been accustomed to Vladimir Putin and the Russian army rattling their swords with their large-scale military maneuvers on the border with Belarus.
We thought Putin just wanted to intimidate us and our government to achieve his political goals
– There was much talk that Russia would start a war against our country, but the inhabitants of our city did not expect that they would do it in real. A year ago it was the same. They conducted exercises on the border with Ukraine, they said that a war would break out, but this did not happen, Stozhok told TV 2.
– That’s why we thought it was the same this time, we didn’t expect that they would go to war, but rather that Putin would frighten us and our government in order to achieve his political goals, notes the Randaberg player.
But this time, it was seriously bloody. Not only did the Russians strike their swords, they also sharpened them, and then used them.
On February 24, Russia fought a war of aggression with the aim of occupying the neighboring country. When the war broke out, Dasha Stojok was in a neighboring town from her hometown of Korosten, which resembles a medium-sized Norwegian town of 63,000 people, not far from the border with Belarus.
– I saw the news of the bombing of the airport
She had just played an away game for her team VC Polissya Zhytomyr in the first division of Ukraine on a cold February day.
Early in the morning the phone started ringing. again and again.
– When Russia started the war against Ukraine on February 24, we woke up at half past six in the morning and saw the news that they had bombed our local airport, she said.
The coach called and said the season was over and all the players had to go back to their homes and families
– Then my mother and our neighbor called soon after and said we had to go home. Then my coach called and said the season was over, all the players had to go back to their homes and their families, the volleyball player continues.
But coming home from an away game to be with his parents and little sister wasn’t easy. The outbreak of war led to chaos in the streets.
– I tried to find a free bus or train to get home, but it was full of people. You remember there were people everywhere with bags full of clothes, everyone wanted to escape.
A clear message from the father
When the 20-year-old finally found a free seat on the bus and returned to her family’s home in Korosten, her father’s message was clear.
– When I got home, we had many discussions about going directly to Lviv in Western Ukraine, but we stayed another night and went to my grandparents, who had their own house. We lived in an apartment next to the train station, which was a dangerous place to stay, says Dasha Stojok, continuing:
– Then the bombing of my hometown began. There was a lot of military activity, thick smoke and loud explosions. We were afraid. Then my father said we should go to western Ukraine.
– I heard a bomb drone
After the plane’s alarm woke them up for much of the night, they got into the car to travel to Lviv, not far from the border with Poland.
It was the beginning of a journey that would eventually end in Norway.
– Usually the trip to Lviv from our city takes five hours, but this time it took 14 hours by car. There was a lot of traffic. Stojok says everyone wants to escape.
They stayed with their mother, sister, grandparents and some acquaintances for two weeks in the Polish border town. But then he started hitting outside Lviv, too.
– We heard the sound of bombs, because there is a military base on the outskirts of Lviv. Then my dad said he wouldn’t let us stay there any longer. He told us we had to travel abroad, and called some friends from Karmoy and their mothers, with whom my father worked on charity. They said we could come and live with them, she says.
– Then the girls understand that they don’t need a lot of clothes
They crossed the border and got tickets from Poland to Norway. In their luggage, they had only packed necessary things like documents, passports and cash.
If girls go to war, they finally understand that they don’t need as many clothes as they think
– I brought the phone, and fortunately I brought the laptop, because I need it to continue studying. I also brought notebooks, not fully understanding why I brought them, the volleyball player laughs.
– For the first three weeks after the outbreak of the war, I wore the same training suit. My father said that we only need to stay in Lviv for two or three days. It was a lie, because we were there for two weeks before the plane took us to Norway, the 20-year-old continues.
– At the same time, we joke now that if the girls go to war, they finally understand that they don’t need as much clothes as they think, and notice the Ukrainian, and pull back the smiling face.
Safely in Karmoy, Stuzhuk, her mother and 17-year-old younger sister are housed in a larger apartment with 14 other refugees from Ukraine. They wanted to live there, because communication with their fellow countrymen and women in everyday life meant that the longing for their homeland was not so great.
We will never forgive and we will never forget
But when she was finally safe, agonizing thoughts about what she had suffered during the outbreak of war in Ukraine surfaced.
– I can say that the first three days of the war are the worst in my entire life. Emphasizes that, I have never felt fear before in my entire life.
– We didn’t understand what happened. We’ve heard about World War II, but we didn’t know what the war actually was like. The worst thing to think about is that we had to leave my parents, my hometown, and all my friends. Since our city lies directly on the border with Belarus, we were sure that the Belarusian army would invade and bomb our city, she says, choking on tears.
We will never forgive them. We will never forget
The relationship between Ukrainians and Russians was good for a long time, and they referred to themselves as a brotherly people. However, the Russian invasion left wounds that will take a long time to heal.
Dasha Stozhok does not think that Ukrainians and Russians will ever be friends again.
– number. Start. The situation worsened after the occupation of the Crimea, and then they began the war in the Donbass and Luhansk. We will never forgive them. We will never forget him. I hope Russia will be isolated from the rest of the world after that, she says.
Volleyball has become a haven
After fleeing to Karmøy in March, the Ukrainian girl wanted to continue playing volleyball. Not only to take her mind off the war raging in her homeland, but also because she missed playing the sports she loves.
She was allowed to train with the volleyball team in Haugesund, but the coach there soon realized that the Ukrainian girl belonged to a higher level.
– I trained with them several times, and then the coach wanted to find a high-level team for me. He called Randaberg’s volleyball coach Espen Sorbo and we spoke. I traveled to train with the team and they wanted me on the team. So I’m so glad we reached out, and summed up this 20-year-old.
In August, she took the moving burden with her and settled in Randaberg, a stone’s throw from Randaberghalen, where the volleyball team trains and plays their home matches. Coach Espen Sørbø arranged dormitories in the basement for a coach on the club’s age-appropriate squad.
Stuzhuk made an impression right away – on and off the field. In addition to being an important part of Team A, she is also coach of Randaberg’s age-appropriate team in the volleyball group.
– I am very lucky to have volleyball and to play for a team in the first division. My coach Espen helps me with everything, and he has supported me from the start. I was nervous in the first practice sessions, but ESPN and my teammates helped me out. They all speak English in the training sessions so I can understand and be able to participate in the conversation. I am very grateful, concludes the volleyball profile, who was a standout player in Ukraine, and is now ready to show off in the Norwegian arenas when the season begins on 2 October.
The dream is to play a home match at Randaberghallen with the whole family from Ukraine in the stands.
I talk to the family several times every day. It is easier for girls and women to travel in and out of Ukraine. It’s more difficult for my father. But since he works for a charity, he had the opportunity to go abroad for two weeks. So they have had the opportunity to visit me, and I hope they will come soon, says Stojock, I hope they look up in the air.
“Coffee trailblazer. Certified pop culture lover. Infuriatingly humble gamer.”