Here is the report on the trip to the Donbass in December of 2017 and everything we’ve done since then until mid-March.
I wanted to write this was one of the hardest trips, but then I read earlier reports and realized they are all like that. Though the first visits were dangerous in the direct meaning of the word, since we saw rocket fire and were practically making deliveries under fire as in the besieged Pervomaysk. Just being in LPR was dangerous. Now, of course, it’s different, though things tend to get…complicated. But now we face other problems. Mostly psychological in nature.
We are ordinary people, and our entire team consists of people who were never psychologists or physicians or even volunteers. and sometimes it’s hard to come to grips with the reality of what’s happening. Like human villainy and treachery. Many other things. It’s hard to accept things you can’t change.
So our 17 moments have come and gone. Three years ago I thought by now I’d have a million trips under my belt, but it turned out only 17. Or, rather, as many as 17?
The first year, we went to the Donbass almost every year. Loading, purchasing, renting a car, visiting the house-turned-warehouse. Now we by everything on the spot, and there is not as much need to go as often. We managed to establish a system which we can operate from afar.
I recently had a dream. A very loud burst of automatic fire. Very realistic. My friends from Moscow sat right next to me. I started to shout: “Do you hear?” And they keep telling anecdotes and don’t hear, don’t react to my words. As if they didn’t hear at all. I start shouting until tears flow, until my voice breaks: “Do you hear the gunfire?” But nobody turns. An idiotic dream, but that’s what my life has become. I shout, but it seems I can’t even hear myself.
It’s time to write the report about the previous LPR trip. As you know, I usually write a report about the preceding trip and the aid that followed, distributed by Zhenya and Lena on the spot, already without me. I won’t break the tradition. This report covers our work since April until today.
The trip itself was pretty calm, not counting having to sleep by the commandant’s office. We showed up during curfew so had to sleep in the car. Got into the city at dawn.
The July visit was not supposed to have happened, but it did happen.
Zhenya is buried under a pile of work, my daughter is graduating from first grade, there’s book editing, the students are in session…
But we managed to get away, though not for long. But it was productive.
The situation was difficult–the daily reports of roads coming under fire meant that the guys refused to take me into DPR, and we traveled only about LPR. In contrast to the previous trips, there was more traffic on roads–we encountered tanks and APCs almost everywhere we went.
–What do you do?
–I go to the Donbass.
I keep asking myself this question this day. With various outcomes. Sometimes I manage to come up with an answer, but usually I don’t.
Sometimes I reach a boiling point and my hands begin to shake when I see, in an underground street crossing, a guy in ill-fitting pants singing soprano, or a legless grandpa with a hat.
What does Donbass have to do with it? I don’t know, but something gave, and that’s all there is to it.
Sometimes anger and resentment get the better of me. To the point of tears, when you spasmodically clench your fists and don’t want to see anyone. You say a million times this was the last time and “never again.” But that “never” soon becomes another trip during which your mom can’t sleep at night and the entire family is frozen in anticipation.
Two tons of food, plus baby clothes, diapers, food, and gifts.
You won’t believe it, but in addition to wheelchairs we brought a brand-new plastic window (Sveta, thanks!), boxes of pots,mixers (Natasha, super!) and a whole bunch of other useful stuff.
People often write me that there’s a ceasefire right now, it’s quiet, there’s plenty of aid without us.
I’ll answer: they can use us and then some. Trust me, it’s an ongoing catastrophe. People are barely surviving.
It seems nobody is dying of hunger, at least not in Pervomaysk. It is quieter, artillery shells are not exploding as frequently as before, though you can often hear small arms fire. Yes, it’s a ceasefire, but everyone is expecting another round of hell.
Utilities people deserve a monument. They quickly react to what’s happening. They fix, repair, restore. For free–salaries are paid only infrequently. Many have been left with nothing, and are living in the cellars and shelters. They wear donated clothes, eat food from humanitarian aid.
In some townlets, like Khryashchevatoye and Metallist, humanitarian aid situation is awful. They suffered heavily during the summer, now they are well behind the front lines, but…they’ve been forgotten.
The third trip was probably the hardest. The situation has greatly changed since our first visit. This is a full-blown war, no other way to describe it.
Please read to the end. The most important part is at the end.