Ira and Tanya

I really don’t like the word “wards”, but how else should one call the people we help?
There are many people whom we help constantly and since long ago. Among them are cancer sufferers. Those are the most difficult cases. Helping the doomed. The number of those who are already gone is unfortunately large. But in each case we keep faith and hope.
This is Ira and Tanya.
Both are fighting. And I have faith in them.
Ira is very young. She’s so beautiful, so bright, so kind…I recently wrote about her–she’s had major improvements, even could walk again. Without a walker or cane. But her temperature has increased again, and it turned out she’s suffering from a major relapse with metastasis. Again time for Chemo.
She needed a medication to increase hemoglobin. Thanks to those who sent money for Ira, and a separate thanks to my friend who helped find the preparation at a reasonable price.
Just look at this beauty! How can this be?

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“People Here”

A year and a half ago I wrote a book which was nominated for the National Bestseller prize.
A book about the Donbass titled “People Here” turned out to be rather small–I wrote it in a hurry to make the award deadline. Only half the planned size. Whole chapters were cut and removed.
Then I put the book away and started to work with publishers.
Nearly all of them said: it’s small, write more.
I spent a year and a half wrestling with it, not knowing what to do. To write more, to self-publish, or I don’t know what.

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The Real Deal

The top floor of the dorm. A tiny room full of beds.
A slender boy with welts under his eyes, wizened woman with a straight back and beautiful hair, and the unbearably thin Vitaliy, holding a napkin to his mouth
–May I hug you?
That’s the first thing I heard Natasha say when we met.
We had a long conversation.
It defies description.
It defies transmission.

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We continue helping

I’ve been writing far less frequently about the people we care for on the Donbass. It’s not so much due to it being hard for me, but rather because everyone is tired and is not opening these posts. But it’s a fact: we’re helping as much as before. Or perhaps even more.
These post contains accounts of aid to 8 families.
Zhenya and I constantly get asked: “How can you  bear it?”
I think the answer would run something like this: “It’s far worse to know about it and not be able to do anything.”
I’m simply grateful you are giving us the ability to do something. I think I wrote about this? But so be it, let me say it one more time. I will probably repeat this constantly from now on. I’m glad to say thanks to you for the aid.
I don’t know to what extent we are doing the right thing.
There are cases in which we help those who perhaps don’t need it. There are cases where people lie, though we always try to check. But I know one thing for sure–I don’t sense emptiness.
There are many various feelings. Exhaustion, bitterness, unfairness, tears. Sometimes I want to give up, we have so many people under our care who have cancer and who are simply doomed. Many of them already died. Many cases are hopeless. It seems Zhenya and Lena are hit harder by these cases. They are on the spot, after all. But I return. Return to normal life. Without war.
Therefore I want to thank them once again. The very close Zhenya and Lena, whom I want to tell they are wonderful.

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On the Front Line

–What is your name?
–Where are you from?
–From Sverdlovsk. Nearly all of us are from there.
Zhenya is so young, tanned, and cute, that one wants to hug him. In a motherly fashion, with no ulterior motives. And it’s so wistful, so sad, when one realizes where he is.
I don’t know what they call the line of contact in other hot spots, but on the Donbass they say “the front”. It’s the very edge. You look over, and 800m away is “their” checkpoint. “Ukie” one, as they say.

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Day of Mourning

September 1, 2004.
On that day I was in Crimea. We were walking and drinking wine in the garden, toasting Chinese philosophy.
And then we suddenly heard “Beslan” from an adjacent garden.
My September 1 will never again be the same. With flowers and meeting of old friends.
On September 1, 2014, many Donbass children did not go to school. Many of them have not gone the whole year. Hundreds of children were hiding in the cellars, afraid to go outside. Some of them are now gone. Some? Many, rather. Not just those who were hurt by the shells. Also those who never got the insulin they needed, or an anti-seizure drug, or some other vitally needed medication.
Hundreds of kids became disabled for life–and not only those who lost limbs or suffered wounds. It’s the newly discovered diabetics, kids with constant headaches, nervous system pathologies, cancers. On the Donbass cancer discovered a “fountain of youth”, if that’s an appropriate phrase to use.
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Gurzuf in the Fall


During the summer, the sky is nearly always blue. It’s difficult to take a photo to make it look beautiful. It’s blue and that’s that.
But the fall fills it with clouds which layer themselves all over.
I don’t like an empty sky.
And I don’t like the summer in Crimea.
I love the fall, when everyone leaves and yearning begins.

The view on Gurzuf from Ayu-Dag.

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When we were in Lugansk, I really wanted to visit our lovely Ira. Listen to her guitar and singing and have tea with her. She’s a person of rare kindness, and one always wants to be around her. She has cancer and, to be honest, when we thought of bringing her to Moscow, the doctors said she was in a bad shape. But Ira never lost hope. She smiled unforcedly, genuinely, sincerely. Such smiles are becoming ever more rare.
Back during the winter she was in bed, never got out, and she was given no chances of survival when she and her husband started treatment. We were not told what kind of treatment. The husband, who is an emergency care medic, helped her a lot.
And then she started to get better. In a big way. We and Zhenya even agreed not to write about it, only mention it obliquely. We were afraid to even speak about it.
After all, she didn’t simply start to get up. She blossomed, improved in every way.

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Helping Schoolkids

September 1 is right around the corner.
My entire news stream is full of pleas not to buy kids flowers on September 1 but rather donate the money to foundations.
Looking at the thousands of aid fund reposts, I realized I forgot about one thing.
On the Donbass, tens and hundreds of kids will also go to school. And they will also need notebooks, erasers, and pens. They’ll need everything, just like our kids.
War or no war. Kids go to school.
I forgot about this, as if it were happening in a parallel universe.

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There is a truly wonderful place in the world. It’s Crimea.
It has sights that take your breath away. No matter how many times you’ve been there.
It’s impossible to become accustomed to such beauty. Eyes do not grow dull.
And if you haven’t been to Cape Fiolent, you haven’t seen Crimea.