A village remains, Redkovka, Ukraine. And handful of families refused to leave, for this is their home, the church its center:
Most of Redkovka’s residents — about 1,000 people — resettled after the disaster. But the five families there today, including Ms. Masanovitz and her husband, Mikhail, 73, refused.
“This was home for them,” Ms. Markosian said. “This was where they grew up.”
“It was something that I had to understand,” she said. “And that came from just being there and seeing the thread that weaves this entire village together.”
The thread, she found, was love: love for one another and love for the place. Together, the villagers endured the Second World War, Chernobyl and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Now, they rarely leave. Although a bus drives through, Ms. Markosian never saw anyone board.