A young father stands by the doorway. He’s pacing in the snow, he’s not dressed for the outside, jumps up and down. Sees our car, waves at us.
–We’ve been waiting for you since early morning. Got very nervous.
He speaks in plural, gets frantic–he’s trying to shake our hands, runs ahead of us, then lets us pass.
–Vika, they’re here!
We enter the apartment, and there’s an 11 year old girl with her mom, trying to avert her gaze. She saw us, crossed her fingers, and turned away.
Mom is holding her by the hand, hugs her, but the girl is still afraid, though she’s no longer looking away.
Then everything was like in a fog. The girl haltingly reads poems about frost and wind.
She’s very shy, though it’s clear she’s trying very hard. Everyone is helping her, the mom, and dad, Grandfather Frost and I. Then we hugged her, and she was speechless.
As we’re leaving the mother grabs us by the hand–her eyes are full of tears.
–Thank you, thank you! Nobody ever brought us greetings. Vika’s never seen Grandfather Frost.
The father’s eyes are shining and his hands are shaking. Vika, their daughter, is disabled, and behaves like a three year old. She and mom prepared the poem to read to Grandfather Frost. The whole family waited for this moment.
On this day, we brought greetings not only to the children of Lugansk. We visited its disabled children. Children who couldn’t make it to parties and trees. Children who are not like other children. In the main, these are kids with developmental disabilities, but not in all cases. Also dystrophy, eyesight, and hearing problems.
It’s already February, and I still haven’t mentioned everyone we’ve so greeted. Time flies…
We spent the whole day running around Lugansk with a bag of presents, and there hasn’t been so much positive vibe in my life in a long time.
I was also lucky. Yura, who helps us with the aid effort, was Grandfather Frost on taht day. Yura is a father of six, so we were a merry tandem. He really knows how to deal with kids)))
At first we had no beard, but then we bought one and corrected this embarrassing omission. But Yura was accepted as a real Frost even without the beard.
We were also accompanied by Valentina, a remarkable woman whom I met back in ’14 when she was the head of the Fabrichnoye district in Lugansk. She’s a social worker and she helped us with our visits. She’s a very pleasant woman, we had a very happy day together. This was not an ordinary day of delivering aid and leaving to go somewhere else. This really felt like New Year, like a holiday.
That’s Vika and Sveta. They live with her grandmother, Vera Nikolayevna. The younger girl has a disability due to eyesight.
They were amazing at reading the poems)))
This is Rita, Sasha, and Roma. Nearly all these kids have problems. Rita has a congenital heart defect and cleft palate. Sasha and Roma have serious developmental problems.
This is Lera and Sofia, who’s 3. She has a serious brain trauma. The older Lera read the poems and it seems she didn’t fully believe we’re the real Frost and Snow Maiden, although she did have a cocquettish smile covering her doubts.
This is Artyom. He has a serious blood disease although Valentina said he has a whole range of problems, including hepatitis and developmental problems. He spends most of his time with his grandmother.
Another Artyom. He’s three, and both he and his mother live in a dorm room. He’s blind, so it was difficult to convey to him holiday greetings…
Vladislav lives with his grandma in a dorm. He was suspicious of us–he’s a big boy already.
Nikita’s also a big boy, hardly a child. He has a brain defect, developmental problems. Has a difficulty speaking. His mom said bombardments and grandmother’s death in September ’14 in his presence really made his condition worse. Neighboring house suffered a direct hit. They live in a region of Lugansk that’s particularly heavily hit, and they haven’t left at that time. It all happened around them.
Andrey and Misha. Andrey (on the left) is deaf in both ears. Very nice and kind boy. His mom translated everything we said into sign language. The younger one was really afraid of us and was embarrassed. But he read the poem, though very shyly. He was very worried, just as his mom was. The older one wasn’t, wasn’t embarrassed, was very open, even though he couldn’t hear what we said.
Nastya and Sasha, who’s disabled. Both are awesome. Nastya ran to meet us, we were lost in their district and couldn’t find their address. Read the poems very well, tried to do their best)))
Rostislav is 12. A funny boy, and merry. He was really excited to tell us what he learned. He was very excited.
He’s also disabled, which we could sense in his speech.
This is Dima, though it seems we brought the greetings to his grandparents who read poems and cried like children when they saw us.
Nastya is eleven and has an ovarian cyst. She lives with grandparents, who are an amazingly pleasant pair of people. When we arrived, they raised such a ruckus that neighbors and their kids came too. Very well, we had enough presents to go around. In the end, everyone read poems, kids, grandparents, nannies, parents, and also every kid got a present which was totally unexpected. In the end, everyone was very, very happy, ourselves included))) A perfect New Year’s.
Valera is three and disabled. He couldn’t read poems, but was very glad for the candy)))
Valera also has a four-month brother.
Valeria and Kolya. Very smart and quick-thinking. It seems there’s something wrong with their health, but I didn’t record what. A very friendly and merry family.
Aleksey is fully grown, but still basically a child. Everyone was surprised to see his reaction to us–he raised his arms and smiled. He does that very rarely, according to mom Svetlana. In ’14 we broght Lyosha an anti-bedsore mattress. Svetlana is an awesome mom, and one can only be impressed by her love and courage.
Lyosha spends all his time in bed, but it’s not a sad home. Svetlana also has a daughter who has two kids whom we met as we were leaving.
They were very shy, but read poems even without our help.
They earned the presents and the holiday mood)))
Here’s what I can definitely say–I did not know who was happier to see us, the parents or the kids. The grannies were practically glowing with happiness, they sang songs, told all manner of stories. We had to fight our way out of every apartment. In most places they tried to sit us behind the table. We went on like this into the night, and in the end I was dropping from exhaustion and was speechless)))
Thanks to everyone who participated in our New Year effort for the Donbass kids. Big thanks to Yulya who provided some of the presents.