“We met Lida in her home on April 6, days after Irpin was liberated. Volunteers from the aid convoy we had joined gave her some food, including freshly baked bread. She held the loaf to her face and took a deep breath, smiling at the scent,” says the photographer Laurel Chor.
“Lida, who is in her 70s, lives alone. Soon after Russia began invading Ukraine, her children came to get her in a car, but they were forced to turn around when Russian soldiers fired at them. Her children fled on foot; Lida insisted on staying.”
“She survived for almost a month under Russian occupation, sharing supplies with other elderly neighbours who stayed behind. It was too dangerous to go outside, so they made holes in their fences, allowing them to go from one house to another while avoiding the streets.”
“There was no running water or electricity. Thankfully, they had a well. It was freezing cold. Russian soldiers came to her house twice, looking for food and medicine. The sounds of explosions were constant. The ceilings of her house were cracked. Near her house, residents had piled artillery shells in a field and next to a playground. ‘Be sure to write the truth,’ she said. ‘Don't feel sorry for that Putin monster. He thought we would give up, but we will never give up.’”
Laurel Chor is an Emmy-nominated independent journalist, photographer, filmmaker, and National Geographic Explorer from Hong Kong. She has worked for VICE, HBO, SHOWTIME, Al Jazeera, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Getty, the Guardian, Reuters, National Geographic, AFP, the Los Angeles Times, and many more. She has covered social, political and environmental stories all over the world, ranging from the Rohingya refugee crisis, to deforestation in Paraguay, and the Russian-Ukraine war.
In 2020, she was named an honoree for the IWMF Anja Niedringhaus Courage in Photojournalism award for her work during the 2019-2020 Hong Kong protests. Her coverage of the Hong Kong protests for VICE News was nominated for a News and Documentary Emmy award for Outstanding Continuing Coverage of a News Story in a Newscast. In 2018, she produced a short documentary film on Chinese migrant workers for VICE News Tonight on HBO, which was awarded the Overseas Press Club of America’s David A. Andelman and Pamela Title Award. Her writing, photography and video producing work has also been recognized with several Society of Publishers in Asia awards.