Ulyana is a tiny and charming girl with a heart flaw. She is in the hospital every two months.
When she was one, she slept in cellars, dropped to the ground at any sound, and already know that “Hail” and “Hurricane” are not merely “weather problems.” And as any other child from Lugansk, Pervomaysk, or Donetsk, she’s still terrified of any loud noise. Their building was hit many times but their apartment miraculously was untouched.
Across the street, there was a huge construction materials store, Epitsentr. It’s no longer there, nothing was left after 2014. There was a fire station next to it which was deliberately targeted, like other infrastructure sites which were the first to be taken out.
Granny Tanya turned 95 so we paid her a visit.
Well, not “we”, of course, but our friends Lena and Zhenya. I’m in Moscow. And they are over there. In Lugansk.
In LPR. On the Donbass. In the middle of war.
Also in the middle of that war lives a single old lady who turned 95 who had nobody to bring her birthday wishes.
–Nobody’s given me flowers in 50 years…
You didn’t forget to take a day off work to come to my book presentation at VDNKh, did you?
I wanted to write a happy post before the event.
Thanks to you we were able to prepare 50 Donbass kids for school!!!
50 kids received notebooks, pens, rulers, paints, and much else. They are from families for whom this is an unaffordable luxury. They are not simply Donbass kids who lived through war and continue to live there. They are from families with many kids, disabled, adopted. Families who lost homes, single mothers. Kids who really need this help. And every time we do this, we end up with very happy posts. Because children are the future. Children are life.
There are great many single grandmothers on the Donbass. One doesn’t want to moralize here, you can do that without me. But it’s a fact–there are many women with children, including with multiple children, abandoned by husbands. And yes, unfortunately, many of these “dads” vanished right in 2014 during the fighting. Of course, these men have their own “truth” which, to be honest, I’m not interested in. They left to get work and then bring family along, but vanished along the way. Or there were disagreements, or he fell in love with someone else.
But there’s also a separate category of women who raise women on their own–grandmothers. Usually they are the parents of fathers or mothers who were raising their own kids, but left this world. So these grandmothers, many of whom are disabled, are left raising their grandchildren. Many of them can’t work anymore, but the kids have to be fed and clothed. That’s how it is.
There are many like that among the people we care for. There’s nobody else to help them. And it’s sad when you see elderly people with very young kids.
Perhaps I’ll tell you about some heroes?
For example, Katya.
She, her two brothers, and a sister with parents are from Voluyskoye, a village currently occupied by the Ukrainian military. During the 2014 offensive their house was destroyed, they survived by a miracle and ran to Russia, to a village near Nizhnyy Novgorod. They found a place there and in general their life returned to normal. The father got a job. Children were studying. But in 2017, at night, their house caught fire due to bad wiring.
It was a miracle Katya woke up. She herself dragged everyone out of the house, they were already unconscious.
She saved five people! This girl here, too embarrassed to look into the camera and pose.
Friends and readers!
My book about the Donbass, titled People Here, is finally coming out!
You will be able to see in bookstores or order online or download an electronic version in September.
I’m inviting all of you for the official presentation which will take place on September 6 at noon at the book fair at VDNKh.
Oh, and Vika wrote. A simple, laconic note.
But when you know it’s written by someone who can no longer see, you smile from ear to ear:
“good dayevdokia today mom read article .tell feodora and aleksandr thati will see i believe inn miracles and they should believe dreams come true . in the bible it says that we recive according to our faith .how are you is daughter ready for school convay greetings to all and give a big big hug to daughter .sorry for errors kisses for everyone”
Vika’s mom Sveta sent the most recent photos of the lovely girl.
I can’t believe it. I simply can’t believe it. I showed it to friends who know Vika’s story well and they were all surprised. And I nearly cried. Because I will never forget our first meeting. I won’t forget what the war did to this girl. Illness. Brother’s death. When I saw the thin, worn out girl who couldn’t even stand up, who didn’t want to live.
You are looking at a lovely doctor from the city hospital’s Therapy Department. Our Yura, who often himself helps others, was treated there. He’s under our care too, as he’s a father of 7 kids (!), you sometimes see him mentioned in comprehensive aid reports. During the fighting he left for Russia and tried to become a citizen. But…It was difficult with so many kids, even though he quickly found work. So he had to return home to his house in Lugansk.
Then Yura started having blood pressure problems, breathing problems, and was admitted to the hospital. Once there, Zhenya noticed that the nurses had to run to get a blood pressure monitor from a different floor. He started talking to the doctors and nurses and it turned out that they have one such instrument for three departments, the lab is closed, and they forgot when they last saw test strips.
Zhenya: “What’s interesting is that people were not complaining about low wages or personal inconvenience, they were worried that they had one blood pressure gauge for three departments, the others were broken, and they were not slated to get a new one for another year. They were concerned that people were being brought on emergency visits and the lab was closed so they couldn’t measure blood sugar…”
We could not ignore this. We brought two gauges, a glucose meter, and test stripes.
Taisiya Ivanovna is once again in hospital.
She was taken there right from the neuro-pathologist’s office, where she was on a routine visit after the stroke. Her right side started to go numb. So she was taken straight from the office to the hospital ward in the midst of an episode. More medications, more tests.
She’ll be there for two weeks, then the doctors will decide. Our Zhenya persuaded the doctor who saved him and Lena in 2016 to look to Taisiya. You remember, I wrote back then the two of them found themselves at the hospital practically at the same time.
We started to help Taisiya and her grandson only recently. Sasha’s mom and Taisiya’s daughter died from a shell fragment which cut open her belly right in front of the boy. She was hit in 2014, but she suffered for two more years with mangled stomach and intestines which the surgeons had to put back together in primitive conditions at the hospital with no electricity.
It’s still summer, but the fall will be upon us soon, which means not only yellow leaves but also school. Which in turn means notebooks, pens, backpacks, and all kids of other stuff kids need. And yes, kids in LPR/DPR also go to school, attend after-school clubs, and they need all that very badly. Maybe even more than our kids.
All of that costs a lot. For many Donbass people, late August and the fall are a difficult time of the year. Because the average monthly salary is 5,000 rubles. Sometimes all these school supplies are an unaffordable luxury. It’s a luxury to buy pen holders and book sleeves…
Have you calculated how much it costs to prepare one school child for September 1?
These children are not simply children. They are children of war. They live in a different reality and for many of them colorful markers, pretty erasers are a source of joy so great that it’s hard to believe in our reality with prosciutto and i-Phones.
So Lena and Zhenya carried out “Operation Y” [a reference to a famous Soviet-era film] to collect school supplies for the people we care for. But unfortunately we were not able to collect enough for all. Especially for those families for whom we are making separate collections and the particularly needy ones–you know them all well.
We really want to help both. Last year we and you were able to collect many school kids for children whose parents are on the registry at the Lugansk Aid Center. These are foster kids, families with many children, single moms, disabled kids.
We want to help as many kids as possible!!!
So I’m calling on you to join in this effort!))) Come on board!
If you do, please label your contributions “school”.
And you must see the photo report on what we’ve bought so far.
Just look at how improbably happy they are!!!
Lena and her parents and kids went shopping and picked out everything. So the boys and girls got to pick the color of their notebooks, backpacks, pencils, paper, everything they needed.
Lenochka, you and Zhenya are totally awesome!!! It’s so good to have you with us! Thank you!
This is Vika and Alyona. It’s so unexpected to see them together on the same photo, after all they’ve never seen one another.