Alla Gedz is a member of Christ Church, Kyiv, part of the Church of England’s Diocese of Europe. She has posted regular updates about the situation in Kyiv has given the Anglican Communion News Service permission to publish them.
“They're bombing. I heard the first explosions at night. It's 8:00 am now.” That is how Alla Gedz, a member of the congregation of Christ Church, Kyiv, first broke news of Russia’s invasion of Kyiv last Thursday to her friends across the world.
“I looked out the window”, she said. “Lots of noise. I live on the first floor. People are in fear and panic. I'm trying not to cry myself.
“City officials say we should be packed with documents and ready to go to the hideout! BUT! There is no shelter near us. And we have nowhere to go. I live near Sikorsky Airport. Very near.
“They can turn off the electricity at any time. Therefore, there will be no internet connection.”
Alla suffers from a chronic health condition and her doctor is currently unable to issue a prescription which would enable her to get much-need painkillers. Nor is she able to get a health note which would enable her husband to travel with her should she find a way out of Kyiv to a neighbouring country for sanctuary.
Supplies in shops and stores in Kyiv are running low as businesses struggle to move goods around Ukraine and into Kyiv.
“My wheelchair will not help me at all now if I need to urgently move somewhere”, she said. I have breathing problems and difficulty concentrating because of virus and fever and cannot move without assistance.”
Alla updated her friends last Thursday evening as the first day of the invasion drew to a close: “My dear friends, brothers and sisters. In these special moments I would like to share how much I appreciate your prayers and support”, she said. “I treasure each and every one of you in my heart.
“I heard the first explosions at night and then during the day the bombing continued. The building in which I live was not damaged, only the windowpanes rang a little, when there was an explosion.
“I saw fighter jets through the window. And they repeated on TV that the people of Kyiv must hide in a shelter, danger from the sky.
“At the moment, I am ill and staying in bed. When ‘Air Raid’ was announced I was in my bed and hoped for God's mercy.”
By Friday night, Alla’s neighbours had left their building. “There are a lot of military equipment and vehicles near our building”, she said. “The bombing is more like constant shots. About 100 meters from our building there is a gas station for cars. If it blows up, there won't be any dust left of us.”
“An air strike on Kyiv was announced on TV! We stay at home. We have nowhere to go!
“I pray that my psyche can bear it all. I can no longer restrain myself from crying. I shudder from any noise, even when there is no danger. Lord, please save my mind and my psyche from destruction.”
In the early hours of Saturday morning, Alla said that she “looked through the crack in the window. We blocked the window with a dismantled wardrobe.
“Now, at this moment, concrete blocks are being unloaded near my house and a roadblock is being set up. Lots of soldiers with weapons.
“Something is being built right next to the building. It's scary to imagine what awaits us.
My apartment is right next to the road where the action takes place...
“There is less and less chance of surviving until morning... Terribly scary! Very scary!”
Just after 8am EET (6 am GMT), Alla reported that she was “safe and sound”
“Praise the Lord and thank you, my dear friends,” she said.
“The shrunken body gradually begins to take its usual form. Our apartment is intact.
And I understand that this is a real miracle! You made this miracle a reality! The Lord has been very merciful to us! The fighting stopped a couple of hundred meters from our house.”
She said that tanks and people with machine guns “did not quite reach our house, where a big battle was being prepared, but, it was terribly scary.
“I was picking myself up piece by piece to pray. Now they don’t shoot anymore, but it still seems to me that a battle is going on. A little sleep might help.
“Thank you my dear brothers and sisters. thank you for fighting for our lives! I love you all! We would not make it without you!”
Saturday afternoon brought news that a high-rise apartment block which was hit by a Russian missile was not far from Alla’s flat.
“I am crying”, she said. “This building is very near to ours. The troops moved away from our house and have already begun to dismantle the concrete structures.
“The military, who were under our windows, said that everything was fine. The operation is over. After a while, all the military and equipment left.
“We were ready to get some sleep and recover from the stress of the night. Then there was an explosion. One of many. The shell hit the building which is near to ours.”
Late on Saturday night, news broke that all residents of Kyiv feared: “The last announcement”, Alla wrote. “Everyone must be ready.
“According to intelligence, in 30 minutes everything that the fascist family has will fly to Kyiv. Everyone MUST hide in the shelter! Everyone MUST be prepared”, she said, quoting Iryna Herashchenko, the Deputy Chair of Ukraine’s Parliament.
But Sunday morning brought fresh hope. “Dear friends, thank you for helping us live another day and one more night”, she said. “We are exhausted and worn out but alive.
“We spent the night in the basement of a neighbouring building under the sewer pipes. Unfortunately, there is no bomb shelter near our building.
“There are military battles in Kyiv. An air alarm is constantly being sounded. We are at the epicentre of hostilities.
“All shops, pharmacies, banks are closed. There is a curfew in Kyiv from Saturday 5 pm to Monday 8 am. Anyone who goes out into the street at this time will be considered saboteurs and will be destroyed.
“I value your prayers and loving care. Thank you for caring us to the Lord!”
When the curfew lifted on Monday morning, Alla and her were able to leave their shelter. “We started our night in the basement, but when everything started to calm down, we returned home,” she said. “How I love a warm shower and my bed!”
“It is very cold and wet in the basement where we hide under the sewer pipes.
“The morning was quiet. Suspiciously quiet. Even the birds were silent, did not sing. This is the moment when you start to be afraid of silence, because you don't know what awaits you.
Then the curfew ended. And the sirens blared again: ‘Air Raid!’
I looked out the window and saw a lot of people who, as it turned out, were standing in line at the store, which is located near our building. People were standing in line, despite the fact that it was announced: ‘Air Raid!’
“I sent my husband to look what was going on. He called me back and said that the queues to the supermarkets and pharmacies are several hundred meters long. Pharmacies are all closed, but people are standing and hoping that they might open.
“All these days, when there were hostilities, not a single car with food appeared on the square where we live. Yesterday, there were posts on Facebook from people who live near Kyiv. They wrote that there was nothing in the supermarkets. Nothing at all.
“When they said, before the war, that there would be a blockade of Kyiv, it was hard to believe... I understood that this is one of the ways to exterminate people. No one hopes and does not believe that humanitarian aid sent by all countries will reach ordinary people. Not a single help has reached ordinary people yet.
“Today is a nice sunny day, but for some reason I want to cry. Thank you my dear friends for your support and prayers.”