Heroic Grannies

My blog is a paradox in that while 80% of my posts are about the Donbass, the most read posts are the remaining 20%. With the rarest of exceptions. As soon as I stop writing my thoughts and stories, the rating crashes (in the sense of number of views).
My life of late has not been very simple, so I’ve had little time to write the blog about myself. I promise to fix that and continue writing on the favorite themes of “Dunya once again broke/lost something, etc.”
But in spite of the fact the blog lost views, I want to give big thanks to all of those who continue helping the Donbass. In January I will have a many reports from New Year’s events, the first of which already took place. LPR people these days are veritable Stakhanovites, tirelessly delivering presents in one place after another. I will write about that, and post photos, later.
But the main thing is that in addition to presents, our friends continue to deliver aid.
Thanks to everyone who, in spite of the holidays, leave, remember that there are people who need help! This is priceless, and it’s a point of pride that we’ve been able to organize it. Thanks to our entire team which put together these complex logistics!
I’m glad to see that even with the greatest drop in readership (yes, alas, I’m always upset when this happens), the aid continues.
And that’s very cool!
The post is about our friends’ most recent visits to our grannies. Heroic grannies who raised grandchildren on their own. They are all in unbelievably difficult situations. Age, illness, sadness from losing own children, but in spite of all that they have boundless love for their grandkids and do everything for them. What is more, not all parents try as hard.
Thank you for your caring!
If you want to help these families, please label your contributions “grandmas”

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Gas was cut off

Elena Ivanovna is a quiet and gentle woman who found herself in deep trouble. There’s absolutely no-one to help her. It’s been like that. But now, thank God, she now has you and us.
We became acquainted during the summer. We’ve been trying to improve the situation since.
Elena Ivanovna lives in Lugansk. She broke a leg when the war started and due to a doctor’s error it fused improperly. She can’t walk now. Then she broke her arm so badly that she can’t work. She also can’t use crutches and is not easily transported. At that time she also lost her husband to cancer. It all piled up during the war, when it was difficult to organize normal treatment and recovery.
That’s a brief summary.

 


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Oksana’s Family

Oksana’s husband perished on May 9, 2015, defending his Motherland. I don’t even know what to write, the new Motherland of LPR, or the old one, but which one? He was a militiaman and, like many, he wen toff to defend his home in Lugansk in ’14.
He left behind a wife with two children, Masha and Kolya. Here they are, on the first photo.
Oksana went through hell and one can’t even say she’s out of it yet. Only the children are keeping her afloat. She did not really live for several years after the death, she loved her husband so much. She closed inwardly but, thank God, did not lose her mind. We have helped many children whose mothers went insane due to what they went through, and who now live with their grandmothers. Kolya and Masha live with their mom and thank God everyone is alive and well.
But they are struggling.
In the fall I wrote about how all of their appliances burned down. Thanks to the money we collected we were able to not only help the family with food and medications, but even bought them a washing machine. Oksana never asked anything of us. She is very modest and does not complain. Many thanks to caring people who volunteered to help in this difficult situation.
You know, I am often offended by people who leave comments stating they also fare poorly but “they are not takers.” I’ll say this: none of these people is a “taker”. What is more–one must ask. This is normal and correct in a difficult situation. Nobody has written a comment “Dunya, please help me, I’m barely surviving.” No, these comments are simple insults directed at me and at those whom we help. I always feel bitter when I read them. I would like there to be as few people as possible in such situations. But I would also want people not to envy others and were instead able to be happy for them.
Interestingly, often people we help turn down our aid. They may have an empty refrigerator, but they’ll say “someone needs it more”. Be merciful and don’t judge! Be able to forgive, not envy, and give. Anyone can find themselves in a tight spot, anyone at all, and this war has taught me that. Don’t judge and don’t think that if you are doing well, it’s because you are doing something rights. Sometime these are people who are at odds with logic. Don’t overestimate it, it will get ahead of you and smack you on the nose.

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Life Goes On!

Look, look–what a merry beauty!
On December 11, our Vika appeared in a concert in Lugansk, dedicated to people with disabilities.
Recordings proved of poor quality therefore you won’t be able to hear Vika, but you’ll have to take us on our word! She was wonderful!
I heard her sing many times, I even posted a video. She has a strong, beautiful voice. She practices constantly at home.
She’s also improbably artistic, charismatic, and kind.

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We will fight!

I was recently asked what I would say in The Hague, when giving testimony on war crimes. I didn’t know what to say.
Probably because we’ve seen so many stories…hundreds. For example, there’s this girl who has since grown up who watched her mother’s death. Shrapnel struck her head and she died instantly. The girl, the very young girl, saw it all with her own eyes. Or, in another case, the man whose wife and son were blown to pieces all over the block. There’s also the elderly woman who lost a leg and an arm, and her own brother who lives in Dnepropetrovsk told her over the phone she’s lying and that they are “separatists” and therefore it’s her own fault. There are also invisible stories, too many to count. Each time I write about these stories, people write in comments the war has nothing to do with them.

As far as I am concerned, the war has everything to do with them.
These are our cancer patients. Whom we look after. Naturally, nobody can say why the swelling began. It’s a whole universe of causes. Rich, beautiful, young, famous, all burn out and no amount of money can save them. And  they are not in the midst of any war. This is a serious illness with which humanity has not learned to fight. But we always encounter cases where someone needed to start treatment, but had to hide in cellars because of shells. Or had to go to a doctor, but couldn’t because of shells. And when it’s not about the shells, it’s about struggling to survive. Health care system barely copes, in spite of all the aid the Republics are getting. There’s always something lacking. Hospitals are full, there are long waiting lists. And no, this is not just stress. People have been living there for six years, in isolation, with tiny salaries. Awaiting the big world’s decision. Simple, ordinary people who don’t know what tomorrow will bring. They don’t know how to live. But life goes on, time flies and, alas, nothing changes. All of these Normandy Fours, Fives, Dozens…they have no impact on ordinary lives. Shelling continues, people struggle to survive, the world does not recognize. There is no work, salaries and benefits are minimal, but the prices are like everywhere else…

So, as you might imagine, this post will be about one of our cancer “girls”. About Viktoria. My most recent post about her was during the summer.



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Learning to hear. Help is needed!

Rodion is a boy from Lugansk who was born deaf. He turned 3 in November. And thank God he was able to undergo cochlear implantation on both ears by that age. The first ear was implanted in Moscow last spring, the second in September, in Kiev. The implants will eventually allow him to hear.
As you know, we helped organize the Moscow part. Thanks to Irina Bednova, the implant was done for FREE. Thanks to you, we were able to help the family with money for the trip, stay, medications, etc. In Kiev the operation was also free of charge, and thank God that’s how it turned out.
But now there’s this situation.
The operation was only one stage. The rest consist of tuning the apparatus and conducting exercises. We’ve managed to deal with the latter. There is a clinic in Rostov, MasterSlukh, which now works with the boy. Rodion made several visits and had intensive exercises with their specialists. They tuned the Moscow implant and worked with the boy. And, most importantly, taught the mom how to work with Rodion and how to have exercises with him. Big thanks to physicians, educators, and hearing specialists who are helping Anya (mom) and Rodion!

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From Novosvetlovka

I remember Raisa Yakovlevna from back in 2015, when we visited her at home in Novosvetlovka.
Zhenya brought her aid from other volunteers. I was then doing a report on the village. Tens of destroyed houses, burned out tanks and APCs on every street. Pillboxes at every turn, and shrapnel damage to everything. It was very cold, and while snow was trying to cover the shattered houses, the bare trees laid everything open to the bones. The village was absolutely stripped.
I remember the empty house and the crying woman who told us what happened. I stood in the open door, waiting until Zhenya talked to her. We were getting ready to leave when she started to ask us to stay and have tea with her. “You’ve been on the road, you must be tired.” It’s true we were tired but we also had to go. She had almost nothing but she could just let us go. That’s how people there, on the Donbass, are. After that we kept running into her. Whenever we brought her aid, we had to fight off her “presents”–a packet of nuts, a can of pickled tomatoes. Always wanted to feed us.
I remember well what she told us. We haven’t seen each other since. Many volunteers from various institutions were helping her. I never saw a photo of her.

A house on Raisa Yakovlevna’s street.

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Why did they stay?

One angry lady showed up in the comments section last night. She wrote two harsh comments stating that she and her three kids left the war zone, lives in Russia, is really struggling, but at least her kids don’t know what war is. The post concerned collecting aid for New Year festivities. The woman wrote that nobody brings her presents, which means those who stayed there did so because it’s beneficial to them, and that makes her very angry. They are there to collect aid.
I’ll say this–yes, we have seen people like that in ’14. Alas, they did exist. I remember one woman in Pervomaysk who did not want to leave the bomb shelter even though heavy shelling stopped a long time ago. She did not want to leave because journalists and volunteers were showing up by the hundreds. They brought food, clothing, medications. Just sit and take. But listen–it’s been five years since that time. Yes, sometimes humanitarian aid does arrive, but that’s not enough to live on. Nobody’s been living in bomb shelters for a long time, the war has moved into a new phase. No, that phase is no better or worse, it’s just different. Unruly, protracted.
The aid from our convoys is meant mainly for hospitals, kindergartens, retirement homes, dormitories, other institutions. This is real aid. They bring equipment, special preparations, insulin, and much else needed for people to live. But to say that people find it convenient to stay in the warzone is just funny. Salaries, pensions, benefits in the Republics are tiny. Life there is very difficult. It’s hard to find work, pay is low. And there’s the war. Leaving now is not like leaving in ’14 when there were refugee processing centers and many programs assisting in restarting one’s life. Now it’s a multi-layered hell where the problem is not only the institutions but even the question of where to turn to. Even with one kid it’s a problem, and what do you do when you have three? And what about single moms, elderly, disabled, bedridden? What are they to do?
The lady was very angry, but her pain and the difficulty of her situation were plainly felt. She removed her comments after some time. But I can say that I constantly encounter such opinions concerning those who remained among those who have left, and also among Russians. Very many condemn those who live there. And I always answer the same–you have no idea what you would have done yourselves in that situation.
My friend from Lugansk did not leave because her parents absolutely refused to leave their land and she couldn’t leave them. Everyone has their own pain and own reasons. It’s seemingly obvious, but apparently, not entirely since people are constantly making similar comments.
That’s how tit is.
Friends, thanks to all who continue to help our team in helping people of the Donbass. In this post there is a report on medications for two people who are really struggling.
Did they have an opportunity to leave? Why did they stay? I don’t think it’s for us or that lady to judge. But I know that anyone can find themselves in a tough spot. Anyone at all.
And I’m glad we can help them somehow.

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New Year on the Donbass

Isn’t it too soon? If anything, it’s too late. Well, not entirely, of course.
Friends, since 2014 we have been providing New Year’s greetings for people who live in the war zone. At first it was all very chaotic–someone collected presents, brought them to me, someone bought gift sets and also brought them to my home. We then drove with it from Moscow and other cities to LPR/DPR and distributed among the children.
After that we started to look after not only after the kids but also adults–in hospices, retirement homes. I recall how in January ’15 we simply gave toys to all the kids we met in the grey zones–where there’s still fighting. There weren’t many kids, but I remember nearly all of their faces…I was so scared then–there was constant roar of incoming and outgoing shells. It was noisy the whole time, and the children already back then, five years ago, were so used to it that they did not react to explosions…



After the Surgery

Since the summer, we’ve been helping Elena Ivanovna from Lugansk, which found herself in a really tough spot. He injured her hip after the war began, she had an improperly inserted pin into her leg (I published the x-ray earlier). It all fused improperly, too. A few years later she had a serious arm injury. This made it impossible for her to walk on crutches. She was stuck at home, isolated. Her husband died of cancer at the same time.
The woman lives with her 15-year-old son. No relatives. I can’t imagine what would have become of her it we didn’t help her. She couldn’t even get a decent diagnosis. Doctors passed her around, said various things at different times. They talked of prosthetics for which she had no hope. And only in late September did we learn that in order to have a prosthesis the pin had to be taken out. A new joint could be installed six months after that.
Elena has lived in Lugansk with a Russian passport for over 20 years, having a residence permit. That’s why she couldn’t get normal health care. LPR passport was difficult for Elena to get. And even though everyone was very understanding of her disability, it is Lena who had to take Elena Ivanovna to all the offices in her wheelchair. She kicked ind doors, pleaded, talked to the long lines of the waiting. She was able to get the passport very quickly. Danya, her son, would have hardly been able to tackle such problems.
We managed to set her up with good doctors for the surgery. It took place in late October.
How’s she doing now?

Since the last post, our friends have visited her six times at the hospital. Constantly on the phone.
I want to say this one more time–she has nobody to help her but us. Danya is at school, he can’t help his mom on his own. He has his own struggles. It’s a long trip for him, too, they live in upper Kambrod, while the hospital is in Yubileynoye (the outskirts of Lugansk). 90 minutes with transfers. He spent the first week after the surgery at the hospital, the school had to be notified of his absence.
Zhenya writes:
“The surgery went very well. Elena Ivanovna is feeling better. Her mood is as good as ever. But a week later a fever–an inflammation of some sort…Some of the stitches were removed. In some places there were black blood pools. Pain…

But everything is still ahead, there’s already hope that she’ll recover fully.
Thanks to all who are helping in our assistance effort!
If you want to join in, please label your contributions “Elena”.

Lena and Zhenya also told us about Elena’s hospital room. I can’t help but quote them: “A room for 6. Each with their own story. Own pain and tragedy. A woman in the next bed was brought from Molodogvardeysk, with orders to “amputate the leg”. A young doctor looked, said, “we’ll fight for the leg”. Opened it up, cleaned, cut something out. The leg was saved, no function lost. Good, right? The next neighbor was already discharged, she came from Schastye (under Ukraine) under the “Helping Our Countrymen” program. She was put back on her feet in a month, for free. She spent 4 months in Schastye, in hospital, with no result. This is good, too. Another woman from Stakhanov, sold her apartment that used to belong to her parents. In order to pay for a hip joint implant. It was installed, but then there was rejection, infection, another surgery to remove the implant. More infection, then a stroke, died on Wednesday. She screamed a lot…Two people had died in that room while Elena Ivanovna was being treated. A grandmother, very kind, nice, and patient, died on the same day. This is their daily life…There are also many young militiamen being treated for shrapnel wounds. War quietly continues. They are trying not to advertise it. “Every so often they bring in young, wounded boys”. This was said by a doctor with an angry gaze…”



If you want to help the people of the Donbass, please write me in person through LiveJournal, facebook,  V Kontakte, or email: littlehirosima@gmail.com. Paypal address: littlehirosima@gmail.com.

Please label contributions for this family “Elena”.