Life Goes On!

Look, look–what a merry beauty!
On December 11, our Vika appeared in a concert in Lugansk, dedicated to people with disabilities.
Recordings proved of poor quality therefore you won’t be able to hear Vika, but you’ll have to take us on our word! She was wonderful!
I heard her sing many times, I even posted a video. She has a strong, beautiful voice. She practices constantly at home.
She’s also improbably artistic, charismatic, and kind.

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We will fight!

I was recently asked what I would say in The Hague, when giving testimony on war crimes. I didn’t know what to say.
Probably because we’ve seen so many stories…hundreds. For example, there’s this girl who has since grown up who watched her mother’s death. Shrapnel struck her head and she died instantly. The girl, the very young girl, saw it all with her own eyes. Or, in another case, the man whose wife and son were blown to pieces all over the block. There’s also the elderly woman who lost a leg and an arm, and her own brother who lives in Dnepropetrovsk told her over the phone she’s lying and that they are “separatists” and therefore it’s her own fault. There are also invisible stories, too many to count. Each time I write about these stories, people write in comments the war has nothing to do with them.

As far as I am concerned, the war has everything to do with them.
These are our cancer patients. Whom we look after. Naturally, nobody can say why the swelling began. It’s a whole universe of causes. Rich, beautiful, young, famous, all burn out and no amount of money can save them. And  they are not in the midst of any war. This is a serious illness with which humanity has not learned to fight. But we always encounter cases where someone needed to start treatment, but had to hide in cellars because of shells. Or had to go to a doctor, but couldn’t because of shells. And when it’s not about the shells, it’s about struggling to survive. Health care system barely copes, in spite of all the aid the Republics are getting. There’s always something lacking. Hospitals are full, there are long waiting lists. And no, this is not just stress. People have been living there for six years, in isolation, with tiny salaries. Awaiting the big world’s decision. Simple, ordinary people who don’t know what tomorrow will bring. They don’t know how to live. But life goes on, time flies and, alas, nothing changes. All of these Normandy Fours, Fives, Dozens…they have no impact on ordinary lives. Shelling continues, people struggle to survive, the world does not recognize. There is no work, salaries and benefits are minimal, but the prices are like everywhere else…

So, as you might imagine, this post will be about one of our cancer “girls”. About Viktoria. My most recent post about her was during the summer.



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Learning to hear. Help is needed!

Rodion is a boy from Lugansk who was born deaf. He turned 3 in November. And thank God he was able to undergo cochlear implantation on both ears by that age. The first ear was implanted in Moscow last spring, the second in September, in Kiev. The implants will eventually allow him to hear.
As you know, we helped organize the Moscow part. Thanks to Irina Bednova, the implant was done for FREE. Thanks to you, we were able to help the family with money for the trip, stay, medications, etc. In Kiev the operation was also free of charge, and thank God that’s how it turned out.
But now there’s this situation.
The operation was only one stage. The rest consist of tuning the apparatus and conducting exercises. We’ve managed to deal with the latter. There is a clinic in Rostov, MasterSlukh, which now works with the boy. Rodion made several visits and had intensive exercises with their specialists. They tuned the Moscow implant and worked with the boy. And, most importantly, taught the mom how to work with Rodion and how to have exercises with him. Big thanks to physicians, educators, and hearing specialists who are helping Anya (mom) and Rodion!

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From Novosvetlovka

I remember Raisa Yakovlevna from back in 2015, when we visited her at home in Novosvetlovka.
Zhenya brought her aid from other volunteers. I was then doing a report on the village. Tens of destroyed houses, burned out tanks and APCs on every street. Pillboxes at every turn, and shrapnel damage to everything. It was very cold, and while snow was trying to cover the shattered houses, the bare trees laid everything open to the bones. The village was absolutely stripped.
I remember the empty house and the crying woman who told us what happened. I stood in the open door, waiting until Zhenya talked to her. We were getting ready to leave when she started to ask us to stay and have tea with her. “You’ve been on the road, you must be tired.” It’s true we were tired but we also had to go. She had almost nothing but she could just let us go. That’s how people there, on the Donbass, are. After that we kept running into her. Whenever we brought her aid, we had to fight off her “presents”–a packet of nuts, a can of pickled tomatoes. Always wanted to feed us.
I remember well what she told us. We haven’t seen each other since. Many volunteers from various institutions were helping her. I never saw a photo of her.

A house on Raisa Yakovlevna’s street.

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Why did they stay?

One angry lady showed up in the comments section last night. She wrote two harsh comments stating that she and her three kids left the war zone, lives in Russia, is really struggling, but at least her kids don’t know what war is. The post concerned collecting aid for New Year festivities. The woman wrote that nobody brings her presents, which means those who stayed there did so because it’s beneficial to them, and that makes her very angry. They are there to collect aid.
I’ll say this–yes, we have seen people like that in ’14. Alas, they did exist. I remember one woman in Pervomaysk who did not want to leave the bomb shelter even though heavy shelling stopped a long time ago. She did not want to leave because journalists and volunteers were showing up by the hundreds. They brought food, clothing, medications. Just sit and take. But listen–it’s been five years since that time. Yes, sometimes humanitarian aid does arrive, but that’s not enough to live on. Nobody’s been living in bomb shelters for a long time, the war has moved into a new phase. No, that phase is no better or worse, it’s just different. Unruly, protracted.
The aid from our convoys is meant mainly for hospitals, kindergartens, retirement homes, dormitories, other institutions. This is real aid. They bring equipment, special preparations, insulin, and much else needed for people to live. But to say that people find it convenient to stay in the warzone is just funny. Salaries, pensions, benefits in the Republics are tiny. Life there is very difficult. It’s hard to find work, pay is low. And there’s the war. Leaving now is not like leaving in ’14 when there were refugee processing centers and many programs assisting in restarting one’s life. Now it’s a multi-layered hell where the problem is not only the institutions but even the question of where to turn to. Even with one kid it’s a problem, and what do you do when you have three? And what about single moms, elderly, disabled, bedridden? What are they to do?
The lady was very angry, but her pain and the difficulty of her situation were plainly felt. She removed her comments after some time. But I can say that I constantly encounter such opinions concerning those who remained among those who have left, and also among Russians. Very many condemn those who live there. And I always answer the same–you have no idea what you would have done yourselves in that situation.
My friend from Lugansk did not leave because her parents absolutely refused to leave their land and she couldn’t leave them. Everyone has their own pain and own reasons. It’s seemingly obvious, but apparently, not entirely since people are constantly making similar comments.
That’s how tit is.
Friends, thanks to all who continue to help our team in helping people of the Donbass. In this post there is a report on medications for two people who are really struggling.
Did they have an opportunity to leave? Why did they stay? I don’t think it’s for us or that lady to judge. But I know that anyone can find themselves in a tough spot. Anyone at all.
And I’m glad we can help them somehow.

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After the Surgery

Since the summer, we’ve been helping Elena Ivanovna from Lugansk, which found herself in a really tough spot. He injured her hip after the war began, she had an improperly inserted pin into her leg (I published the x-ray earlier). It all fused improperly, too. A few years later she had a serious arm injury. This made it impossible for her to walk on crutches. She was stuck at home, isolated. Her husband died of cancer at the same time.
The woman lives with her 15-year-old son. No relatives. I can’t imagine what would have become of her it we didn’t help her. She couldn’t even get a decent diagnosis. Doctors passed her around, said various things at different times. They talked of prosthetics for which she had no hope. And only in late September did we learn that in order to have a prosthesis the pin had to be taken out. A new joint could be installed six months after that.
Elena has lived in Lugansk with a Russian passport for over 20 years, having a residence permit. That’s why she couldn’t get normal health care. LPR passport was difficult for Elena to get. And even though everyone was very understanding of her disability, it is Lena who had to take Elena Ivanovna to all the offices in her wheelchair. She kicked ind doors, pleaded, talked to the long lines of the waiting. She was able to get the passport very quickly. Danya, her son, would have hardly been able to tackle such problems.
We managed to set her up with good doctors for the surgery. It took place in late October.
How’s she doing now?

Since the last post, our friends have visited her six times at the hospital. Constantly on the phone.
I want to say this one more time–she has nobody to help her but us. Danya is at school, he can’t help his mom on his own. He has his own struggles. It’s a long trip for him, too, they live in upper Kambrod, while the hospital is in Yubileynoye (the outskirts of Lugansk). 90 minutes with transfers. He spent the first week after the surgery at the hospital, the school had to be notified of his absence.
Zhenya writes:
“The surgery went very well. Elena Ivanovna is feeling better. Her mood is as good as ever. But a week later a fever–an inflammation of some sort…Some of the stitches were removed. In some places there were black blood pools. Pain…

But everything is still ahead, there’s already hope that she’ll recover fully.
Thanks to all who are helping in our assistance effort!
If you want to join in, please label your contributions “Elena”.

Lena and Zhenya also told us about Elena’s hospital room. I can’t help but quote them: “A room for 6. Each with their own story. Own pain and tragedy. A woman in the next bed was brought from Molodogvardeysk, with orders to “amputate the leg”. A young doctor looked, said, “we’ll fight for the leg”. Opened it up, cleaned, cut something out. The leg was saved, no function lost. Good, right? The next neighbor was already discharged, she came from Schastye (under Ukraine) under the “Helping Our Countrymen” program. She was put back on her feet in a month, for free. She spent 4 months in Schastye, in hospital, with no result. This is good, too. Another woman from Stakhanov, sold her apartment that used to belong to her parents. In order to pay for a hip joint implant. It was installed, but then there was rejection, infection, another surgery to remove the implant. More infection, then a stroke, died on Wednesday. She screamed a lot…Two people had died in that room while Elena Ivanovna was being treated. A grandmother, very kind, nice, and patient, died on the same day. This is their daily life…There are also many young militiamen being treated for shrapnel wounds. War quietly continues. They are trying not to advertise it. “Every so often they bring in young, wounded boys”. This was said by a doctor with an angry gaze…”



If you want to help the people of the Donbass, please write me in person through LiveJournal, facebook,  V Kontakte, or email: littlehirosima@gmail.com. Paypal address: littlehirosima@gmail.com.

Please label contributions for this family “Elena”.

The pin was removed!

Friends, we finally have good news about Elena Ivanovna!
Do you remember the woman from Lugansk with a major leg problem?
In ’15 she suffered a fracture of the hip joint after which the local doctors inserted a pin and everything fused together improperly. Ever since then she’s had difficulty walking, and only with crutches. Then she broke her arm and could not use crutches. Her husband died of cancer in the meantime. There are problems with the arm, too. We started to help Elena during the summer. She and her young son are completely alone.
The problem lay in that she could not get a free joint in LPR since she is a Russian citizen even though she’s lived there since the ’90s and had a residence permit. She was not able in her condition to leave for Russia and get free treatment there.
But now we have terrific news!

Our friends have done the impossible!
She got an LPR passport in the shortest time possible! Thanks to, specifically, Lena. She simply took Elena Ivanovna in her wheelchair and went to one institution after another. And you know what–people saw her condition and went out of their way to help. How did it happen? Nobody can believe it. Everything was done literally in a week.
Naturally, Lena’s titanic stubbornness were key. One must have enormous internal reserves to do that. Anyone who’s dealt with such institutions knows. My hat’s off to her.
As soon as she got her passport she was operated on. Zhenya consulted with some outstanding doctors.
But it’s not the final joint replacement surgery.
On a tip from Tanya Anikina and a doctor she knew in Moscow who saw the x-rays, we learned that before new joint is installed the pin installed by the “bone-breakers” which basically crippled her must be removed. The operation took place in October ’15. Took 3 hours. The doctors said it was “bloody”.

 


This post contains photos from before and after the surgery. We bought all the medications and everything necessary for the surgery. Lena came to the hospital almost immediate after it was over.
Zhenya: “Elena Ivanovna was practically born anew. She was very worried, and now she’s not the pain-ridden fearful woman, but instead has a merry fire in her eyes. ‘I still can’t believe it was all done in a week”‘. We were dumbfounded as well. We intensified our efforts and it all somehow came together. Genuine miracles. Such a mad pace, though. You go home, and your head is still buzzing”.

So those are the news. Rather good ones at that!
Now we have to wait 6 months until everything sets. We hope to resolve the joint problem during this time.
Elena Ivanovna practically has wings, she’s trying to move on her own now.
But at night she has terrible pains. Hospitals don’t have morphine, they use whatever they have. Which is not enough.

Big thanks to Zhenya and Lena. It was heroic on their part, obtain the passport and the operation so quickly!
Thanks to Tanya who helped with the information, and thanks to all those to donated money! Thank you all for your participation.
But everything is still ahead of us. The start has been made, though, which is very important.
I am happy beyond measure to be able to write such “news”. Because all of it was in a suspended state for a long time, because nobody wanted to tackle such a hard case.
In hoc signo vinces!

If you want to contribute to Elena Ivanovna’s recovery, please label your contributions “Elena”.

If you want to help 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 this family “Elena”.

Shall we help Rodion?

Friends, we have news about Rodion.
A deaf boy from Lugansk whom we are helping.
A miracle happened last spring, and thanks to Irina Bednova we were able to take him to Moscow for a cochlear implant on his right ear. For free?
Since then he’s been undergoing a long training and rehabilitation course.
To read about Rodion, click on the “Rodion” tag at the bottom of this post.
We recently got unexpected and wonderful news. In September his other ear was implanted. Also for free. This time it was done not in Russia but in Ukraine, which makes us very happy. I’m honestly very glad they are also helping the inhabitants of the Republics, because more often than not we hear stories about refusals. The left ear received an implant in Kiev. Now he has two implants. It’s good it happened so quickly. I was told by specialists that the training and tuning process should ideally happen on both ears at once.

Sixty-eighth

 

There are 68 Vika-tagged posts on my blog. I wrote about the girl named Vika almost seventy times. I reminded everyone every time that the young beauty lives in Lugansk. That she has diabetes. The she lost her sight. Suffered from TB. Lost a brother. Had a kidney fail. And it seems it’s becoming more difficult for me to write about this girl.
Not because I have been repeating this 68 times. But because Vika herself reads these posts.
Vika has a computer for the blind which we and you managed to organize for her. Before, these posts were read for her by her mother. Not only posts about them–they read nearly everything I write. But before the mother could skip certain parts. Now Vika can read it all herself. She often writes replies, in person, sending smileys and always trying to make me smile and think everything is fine.
And it is difficult for me to remind her of the situation in which she found herself.
I would much prefer to write joyful stories, but when it comes to Vika these stories are always different. It’s a difficult situation. Sveta and Vika would really struggle without your help. So much so that I don’t even know how retell the same story every time.
To read all the posts about Vika, click on the “Vika” tag at the bottom of this post.
This time, I want to write about Sergey from Belgorod. Every six months, like clockwork, he sends “talking” test strips for a special glucose-meter which he bought several years ago specially for Vika.

Irina Aleksandrovna

Irina Aleksandrovna is from the village of Frunze, LPR. It’s in the “gray zone”. You know what that is? Briefly, a place where there’s fighting. On the “line of contact.” After yet another shell impact (which are not rare there) the woman grabbed her four grandkids, picked up the bag with documents, and drove to Lugansk. Abandoned a house where she had lived her whole life. Where are the children’s parents? They are the sort that social workers euphemistically refer to as “unfit”. The mother exists only on paper. But luckily the kids have a grandma.
Irina Aleksandrovna was born in 1963. When Lena visited them, she was not clear on who was coming with the kids. A child, a sister? Tiny, thin, “only eyes”.
The woman fled to Lugansk. Friends of friends put her up in an apartment near Kambrod. It was empty since ’14–the owner had left. But allowed them to live there.

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