Lilya

No matter how hard one tries not to have anything to do with incurable diseases, life disposes otherwise.
Lilya lives in a Lugansk suburb. She fell ill in ’14, right before the shelling. UAF were only 1.5km away, and there was no way she could be treated. Who could think of treatment anyway when shells were falling all over the place. So time was irretrievably lose. That’s how it is with cancer–it does not tolerate delays.
Now she’s in fourth stage and there’s nothing to be done. Worst of all, the hospice is full, people have to be housed in corridors. So Lilya stayed home.
On the photo, Lilya and her 14-year-old son.


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Tank

“Guys, thanks for the tank!”
That’s the message I recently got from our Seryozha Kutsenko.
He’s been traveling since morning till the evening, up and down all kinds of ramps and trails.
What can I say–last year, he’s been outside only a few times between October and end of April. Ramps are so steep that he couldn’t ascend them on his own. He’s embarrassed to ask the nurses, and they are not always available anyway.


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Mother’s Day. Shall we help?

The Lugansk City Center for Social Services is assisting 13 families with foster children.
You know some of them. For example, the Testeshnikovs, whose daughter Kristina is an insulin-dependent diabetic. We’ve brought her test-strips more than once.
The Testeshnikovs actually have two foster daughters, and not only Kristina has health problems. The second girl has heart problems.
The Testeshnikovs took in the two girls when they were not very young, and at the time they were healthy. The problems appeared later. They did not give the girls back. What do you think–is it right, and incorrect, for me to view this father and mother as heroes? And incorrect when they behave otherwise? Because it’s normal for many people return foster kids when they discover these types of problems. When they discover pathologies and disabilities, even after many years of living together. How many stories like that did we hear in orphanages. Therefore I’m happy even in situations where it should be a normal thing to do.
The parents love the girls and are doing their best to take care of them.


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Hospice on the line of fire

It was quiet in Kalinovo. Even though today is the lottery.
The village is long–I’ve never seen anything like it–27 kilometers. From Pervomaysk to Bryanka. More than half-marathon. Except it’s impossible even hypothetically because shelling is a daily occurrence. It’s been like this for three years. We forgot, we can’t believe, it seems vague to us, we push it out of our thoughts. Even among LPR inhabitants there are those who don’t know what happens on the line of contact. The media don’t draw attention to it, and people simply stopped paying attention.
Kalinovo has its own hospice. That’s where we went.

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At Ira’s

Ira was sad. And also very tired. The weariness was evident in everything–her walk, her smile. It seemed she had shrunk. So tiny, so fragile.
The door was opened by a funny zebra, Ira’s older daughter. The zebra was only missing a tail, but did have funny ears and a long mane hidden under the hood.
There was another little girl running around, very funny even though not a zebra.
The younger daughter.


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No Light

Remember Natasha from Lugansk, for whom we collected money two years ago to buy a hearing aid?
She’s in difficult situation. Can’t find work, and has to take care of two kids. Her hearing got worse after she found herself under shellfire in ’14, so much so she can’t hear at all. The aid helped, but she still asks to repeat almost every phrase.
They live off child benefits and occasional piecework. But she hasn’t found a permanent job. LPR has big problems with work. Many factories, mines are closed for obvious reasons.
That’s where things stand.
In September, Natasha climbed a tree to pick some nuts and fell. Broke a leg and is now hopping on crutches.
Just to top things off, her electricity was cut off for nonpayment.


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Sergeant Kutsenko, hit the road!

Perhaps I should tell you about the main reason for this trip to Lugansk?
Here’s what happened.
One evening, when I was already falling asleep, I got a letter from Natasha. Her profile photo shows an unbelievably beautiful blonde–I had no idea. “Dunya, tell me, how are things with the wheelchair for Seryozha Kutsenko?”  How are things? They are nowhere. It’s expensive, I say. Electric ones are like that. Can’t collect enough money.
“Maybe I’ll buy one?”
And things took off.
We started with looking at a used, cheap one, and ended with a cool German brand new one that’s insanely expensive.
This lovely lady totally stunned me, and on top of that keeps saying there’s no need to write about it. Yeah right, Natasha. I’ll post the best photo right here. Let others envy me.
All in all, we managed to get it by Seryozha’s birthday (actually a couple of days later) and went to surprise him.


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Pervomaysk Swans

The first shocking thing I encountered on the Donbass in December of 2014 were the clean streets. I drove with my eyes wide open, trying to understand what was happening. Grannies were sweeping up the trash right next to bombed-out buildings. Sweepers with brooms marched down roads. Swings were being installed on playgrounds. “One of the neighbors did that”. Fighting at that time was intense, and people were trying to keep their cities in order. I never stopped being amazed by that–the cleaning was being done by public service workers and by ordinary citizens. A little thing, it would seem, but it really stood out given what else was happening.
I particularly like the decorations next to houses–swans from tires with hats from cans, bellflowers made from bottles.

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