Days, Nights, Kiev

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The first wave of refugees from Luhansk (Eastern Ukraine) fell on June 2014, when the first sounds of explosions hit the outskirts and streets of the city.

For many people aged between 18 and 25 it became the final push to leave their hometown. Luhansk has never been a place for romantics. It was a typical provincial post-Soviet city where time seemed to stand still, where everyone knew everything about each other. All of us were dreaming to escape from it.

Like most young people, I’ve chosen Kyiv. To my friends and me the capital seemed to be the city of opportunities. We thought there you could find the job of your dreams, meet new people and, at the beginning, count on those who moved there long before the conflict.

Throughout the year, I’ve been trying to capture what has changed in the lives of my friends and acquaintances. What were their dreams and thoughts now, whether they have changed or remained the same. My greatest surprise was that the feeling of homesickness had been gradually erased with new experiences, new faces, acquaintances, and streetlights. It seemed like everyone gained their freedom, which was stronger than the yearning for the hometown, the city that will never be the same again and to which hardly anyone will come back.

See more from Stepanets on his Website.