The last two days were perfectly crazy, as we, dressed up as Grandfather Frost and Snow Maiden visited practically all of Lugansk.
By the evening we were barely standing and it seems I dreamed we visited more kids and made them read poetry.
Cars were honking at us, people were waving and nearly all the adults were excitedly conveying us New Year’s greetings.
We visited many apartments, but this post will cover only those which you already know.
The people we help, those whom you periodically see on the pages of this blog.
Here we are visiting the family of Vitaliy, a militiaman from Rubezhnoye. Vitaliy spent over a year in captivity in Ukraine. Now he, his wife, and son live in a dorm in Lugansk.
I heard many good and bad things about Givi, about Motorola. Contradictory reports, and I don’t know what to say, since it’s a question of whom you trust.
But I know one hero who is far less remembered than other fallen commanders.
I was fortunate to know him in person.
Today is exactly three years since the day he was killed.
And I will reminisce about Zhenya every year on this day.
I will remember January 23 as my second birthday.
Last night, somewhere along the Moscow Beltway, I was eating country fries at a McDonald’s and was fine. Two awful screaming kids sat right next to me, to the other side a pair of lovers was kissing. I felt fine, warmth was spreading to my legs.
We were sitting with Zhenya, were chewing this food after having driven 1,000 km, and were thinking about how everything was changing.
“Three years ago, I returned from Pervomaysk right before the New Year. I returned to Moscow and couldn’t leave the house. I just heard Dud’s interview of Shevchuk where he talked about how he just came from Chechnya and couldn’t understand what was happening. How he felt two worlds existed, one where there is slaughter and people are dying, and the other with people just leading normal lives–going to restaurants, celebrating, laughing, and going on with their lives. And how in that second world there was no room for the first.”
Snow fell, a freeze came in at night. Then everything melted the next day.
This repeated itself several times.
It’s still pretty war, but outside the city snow is prettily spread.
Beautiful. Like a fairy tale.
And one can’t believe there’s war all around…
Friends, I haven’t gone missing. All is well.
At the moment I’m already in Lugansk.
This time we went quickly, without giving advance notice to anyone. The car was totally full so we couldn’t take anything extra in any event.
I will try to write, but there’s plenty of work to do.
Anticipating your comments–yes, I know about the shelling of Pervomaysk and Stakhanov.
Remember Nellie, who looks like a vixen? She’s raising a 9-year-old daughter on her own. Her parents had a heart attack and a stroke right after the bombardment of Lugansk, and she’s been taking care of them every since–they can’t do it themselves. The whole family is hanging together. But then a swelling was discovered in her body, which was soon diagnosed as cancer. We’ve been helping her with medications.
I wrote about her in October.
She’s undergone a surgery and a course of treatment.
Good news from Vergunka, near Lugansk. It’s a major source of joy, even though we are a bit late reporting it, but we found out about it only recently. The village now has water. For the first time since 2014! People had to carry it in buckets–that’s how laundry, washing, cooking, gardening was done.
That’s how it was.
Ira, who’s raising two kids by herself, lives there. The husband left to look for work at the start of the war and vanished. Abandoned them.
Ira was pregnant, in the last trimester. When Vergunka was shelled she escaped tot he city. The village was right on the line, half the street was leveled. Ira’s house was badly damaged too. The roof caved in, walls collapsed. When she returned, “everything has been looted, down to the spoons and dishrags.”
Tonight [December 13, 2017], from midnight until 3:30am, Pervomaysk came under fire from UAF heavy artillery.
16 locations suffered damage, including 14 houses and two public facilities, the Kalinovka hospital which we recently visited, and School No. 30.
There are wounded, so far no fatalities.
Video under the cut. Continue reading →
Our friends. That’s what we call them–“survivors of captivity.”
Things are improving. The whole family has passports, and not without our help. I’m glad this blog contains not only sad stories but also positive ones, when one has something to smile about or be proud of. I’m glad you and us were to help this family.
All the documents, and all of their lives, remained over there, in Ukraine. Where both husband and wife have arrest warrants for “separatism.” There is no way back for them. Everything–their property and belongings, elderly parents, relatives, is back there. But they don’t have any contact with anyone anymore, “so that nobody is placed in danger.”
They went through a grinder. Vitaliy spent a long time in captivity in Ukraine where he had all of his teeth knocked out and was badly injured. Natasha and her son was in hiding until they managed to escape into LPR where they finally were able to relax. Vitaliy was in the militia from the start. Natasha helped organized the referendum in Rubezhnoye. It’s a miracle they were able to hide. They went from apartment to apartment for months, unable to even go out to shop…
Now they live in a Lugansk dorm. Their son has improved, the problem was in poor nutrition of the whole family. He’s had several hunger-induced blackouts, nervous system issues, and serious headaches.
What to write? And how to write it?
One story after another. One after another. And then you sit in front of the photos and your fingers don’t know what to write.
I simply can’t convey the feelings inside me when I write about the cancer patients we care for. The words themselves disappear into thin air due to their ordinariness and overuse. And that’s the most awful thing.
This is Lyudmila Nikolayevna. Her condition is bad.
We are trying as best we can to help her deal with cancer. When people tell you that the volunteers, the doctors, have gotten used to it, it’s true. Of course you get used to it, and sometimes you are even surprised such things don’t affect you. But at some point you are overcome. Nobody can avoid that. It happened to me when I saw the photos of Lyudmila Nikolayevna after the chemo.
You have seen that woman in our reports. We regularly provide her with medications from Moscow. Because they can’t be obtained locally.
Doctors in Lugansk recently said they can’t do anything else and sent her to the Donetsk Republic Oncology Center.