Viktoria–it means victory

My book about the Donbass was written during the 2015-16 winter. At that time we were busy taking Vika from Lugansk to Moscow to try to save her sight.
Vika was taken in by one of the best opthalmological wards in Moscow. The hospital at FMBA.
While Zhenya and I were driving around Moscow, Vika was smiling from ear to ear and listened to our descriptions of what we saw. We drove through the center, and Our Bellflower kept listening to the street noise. It was her first time in Moscow so she wanted to know every detail.

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“i will see”

Oh, and Vika wrote. A simple, laconic note.
But when you know it’s written by someone who can no longer see, you smile from ear to ear:
“good dayevdokia today mom read article .tell feodora and aleksandr thati will see i believe inn miracles and they should believe dreams come true . in the bible it says that we recive according to our faith .how are you is daughter ready for school convay greetings to all and give a big big hug to daughter .sorry for errors kisses for everyone”
Vika’s mom Sveta sent the most recent photos of the lovely girl.
I can’t believe it. I simply can’t believe it. I showed it to friends who know Vika’s story well and they were all surprised. And I nearly cried. Because I will never forget our first meeting. I won’t forget what the war did to this girl. Illness. Brother’s death. When I saw the thin, worn out girl who couldn’t even stand up, who didn’t want to live.


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Helping the Therapy Department

You are looking at a lovely doctor from the city hospital’s Therapy Department. Our Yura, who often himself helps others, was treated there. He’s under our care too, as he’s a father of 7 kids (!), you sometimes see him mentioned in comprehensive aid reports. During the fighting he left for Russia and tried to become a citizen. But…It was difficult with so many kids, even though he quickly found work. So he had to return home to his house in Lugansk.
Then Yura started having blood pressure problems, breathing problems, and was admitted to the hospital. Once there, Zhenya noticed that the nurses had to run to get a blood pressure monitor from a different floor. He started talking to the doctors and nurses and it turned out that they have one such instrument for three departments, the lab is closed, and they forgot when they last saw test strips.
Zhenya: “What’s interesting is that people were not complaining about low wages or personal inconvenience, they were worried that they had one blood pressure gauge for three departments, the others were broken, and they were not slated to get a new one for another year. They were concerned that people were being brought on emergency visits and the lab was closed so they couldn’t measure blood sugar…”
We could not ignore this. We brought two gauges, a glucose meter, and test stripes.

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“I see”

–Mom, can Vika be cured?
–No.
–But technology changes. Maybe they’ll find a cure?
–Perhaps.
–Absolutely, I’ll grow up, and Vika will see. I’m sure of it, no doubt about it. Right, mom?
I’m writing a post about our girl. Kids are running around and occasionally look at the computer. And on the screen Vika is laughing in sunglasses. Daughter knows Vika well and tells Sasha:
–That’s Vika. She can’t see. She gave me a bracelet, she made it herself.
The boy started to think.
–Dunya, why can’t she see?
I started to think too. The answer to this question is so complex, and the boy wants simple words so that it would become clear immediately.
–She has diabetes.
That is true. But there is something I didn’t say.
–You go blind from that?
–It can happen, but nowadays people can live with diabetes for a long time if they take proper medications.
–She didn’t?
–You know, Sasha, Vika went blind because of the war?
–She is from the Donbass?
–Yes, Sasha, she’s from the Donbass. She lives there.
Я задумалась. За вопросом стоит такой сложный ответ, а ребенок ведь хочет какие-то простые слова, чтобы сразу всё стало ясно.
– У нее диабет.
Кажется так, да. Но что-то не сказала.
– От него слепнут?
– Такое может случится, но сейчас с диабетом люди могут жить долго, если принимать правильно лекарство.
– Она не принимала?
– Понимаешь Саша, Вика ослепла из-за войны.
– Она из Донбасса?
– Да, Саша. Она с Донбасса. Она там живет.
–I see.


Yes, our Vika is from Donbass, from Lugansk. We’ve been trying to help her for three years. Three years of fighting for her life. But we weren’t able to save her sight. And the diabetes is incurable. Vika lost two front teeth, she has many health problems, but dammit, the girl is alive.

She had TB and it was cured. The pressure within her eye jumps so much that she screams, but Vika takes eyedrops every day and now she laughs. She’s had several hypoglycemic comas but she now goes to the store on her own.
She has a computer for the blind and even a glucose meter which speaks the glucose levels out loud, and which we all provided her with.
You know, I don’t know whether to be happy about what I’m writing. Because I wanted to write something positive but the kids knocked me off that path.
They asked so many questions that I immersed myself again in these three years of struggle. You can read these posts, and there are many, by clicking on the “Vika” tag at the end of this post.


Vika is doing well, as you see. But her life still consists of constant visits to the doctor. Every six months she has to go to the hospital and undergo a course of treatment. We try to buy her everything needed. Sveta, her mom, doesn’t always tell us about family problems. I recently found out by accident they have big problems with water. In the winter they simply do without. Everything freezes, so the pipes rotted out. They have to be replaced but that costs money. There is water only during the warm part of the year. Sveta was embarrassed to tell me about it.
That’s how things are.
But overall, Vika is on the upswing, and that’s the main thing.
She’s mastering the computer, goes out, and laughs.

Thank you, everyone, for your caring, aid, responsiveness!
Vika would not be here if it weren’t for you. Those aren’t empty words. That’s the truth.
Thank you!!!

Medications.

If you want to join the aid effort for the people of the Donbass, please write me in person through LiveJournal, facebookV Kontakte, or email: littlehirosima@gmail.com. Paypal address: littlehirosima@gmail.com.

Please label contributions for Vika “Vika”.

Not for nought

When I graduated from college, I went to work for a PR agency. , I remember myself swimming in a pool, after a month of endless press releases, press clippings, and press kits, and thinking–what’s the point? What’s the outcome? The answer upset me. It’s possible I poorly chose the way to apply myself and had I chosen something other than PR I’d have found myself. But it was what it was.
Back then, under a thick layer of chlorinated water, I thought about how much I wanted to go somewhere as a volunteer, so that my efforts would be useful and lead me to believe I do not live for nought. Volunteer at an orphanage, a retirement home, a hospice. Of course, I had no idea what these places were like, and that in reality helping there is an unbelievably difficult endeavor. Although perhaps I realized what the reality was like, because I did not advance beyond thinking about it. Even today I can say I’m not quite up to it. But by paths unknown, without even wishing it, I became a leader (is there a more correct way of stating it?) of a tiny unofficial welfare fund for aiding the people of the Donbass. There are many of us and the main people in this process are our Lugansk Zhenya and Lena. It’s also my many helpers and friends here, in Moscow, other cities, and other countries. I don’t fully know the scale of work we’ve done. I only see what’s happening today and write about it. We got ourselves into various situations, sometimes got experienced disappointment, bitterness. A lot happened–some of that you’ve read about and experienced with us. But there are several people whom we help on a permanent basis, people who have become flags, markers.

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She wrote it herself!

Friends, I can’t not share with you the letter Vika sent. She was very embarrassed because it has many mistakes, but allowed me to publish it anyway. This is Vika’s first letter on her new computer for the blind that we and you gave her, written without mom’s help!!! Vika lost her sight recently, and for her the internet was simply texts read to her by her mom. Now a whole new world is open to her.
“Hello, this is Vika writing, Im not used to writing and usng the soc networks but Im getting better at responding to messages fro friends evdkkya tahnk you and to everyone who gave me the ability how are you doing hows the daughter saed her my big greetings”

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Olga Ivanovna

A call late at night–nothing makes sense, there’s only sobbing coming out of the phone. It’s past the curfew, can’t go anywhere.
We were called by Olga Ivanovna, a retiree, who couldn’t even describe what happened. My friends went to see her first thing in the morning.
The woman practically doesn’t get out of bed, she needs medications for which there’s no money. “I’m so ashamed…I have no-one to ask, it’s just us here. and you were so helpful the last time that I had enough medications for three months.”
We brought medications. Situation is critical–Olga Ivanovna has a class 1 disability, almost can’t walk, Type 1 diabetes, hypertension, heart trouble.

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So, how’s Vika ?

If there is anyone who gets more attention in this blog than anyone else, it’s Vika.
This very unusual girl from Lugansk. So, how’s Vika?
Vika…Vika’s fine. I would like to write her life is wonderful and everything is going well. But that would not be true, because Vika can’t see anything and that’s a fact we at the moment cannot change. “At the moment” because we still believe and are not giving up hope. But it’s a fact that the young girl totally rearranged her life following the recent events in Ukraine and the loss of eyesight.
But just look at how lovely she is!

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At Vika’s

–Mom, give me your hand.
Vika jumps onto the couch, spreads her hands, and fixes her long, lovely hair. Sveta holds her hand, but Vika is already performing.
–Music, more music! I’m singing!
We visited Vika in Grandfather Frost and Snow Maiden costumes, and the girl decided to honestly earn the presents we were bringing.
She couldn’t see our New Year’s costumes. Between you and I, she doesn’t even know what I look like. To her, I’m some Dunya who’s her height, but she knows my voice, knows it very well.
When she listens, she tilts her head and tries to listen not only what is being said, but sense all the intonations.To capture the connection between what is being said and how it is being said.


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“Now I’m all alone”

–It fell here. But didn’t break. But on the other side, the wall was full of holes. It was never as scary as then.
Valentina’s voice breaks, her eyes fill with tears. Her tale meanders–one moment she’s joking and waving her arms, the next her lips shake and tears pour in a stream. She speaks with such a strong Ukrainian accent I sometimes can’t follow.
She lives in Pervomaysk, LPR. She has diabetes and lip cancer. She’s also all alone.
We brought her aid and, before we even crossed the threshold, she ran across the house to show us the photos.


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