Sasha looks like a hero from Gaidar’s tales. Or perhaps not Gaidar’s, but there is something about him that’s positive and attractive. The pressed lips, the modest but penetrating gaze.
A beautiful boy with a terrible fate.
Sasha lives in Lugansk with his grandmother Taisiya. His mother was wounded by a shell fragment in 2014. They managed to put her entrails back together at the hospital, but she died two years later. He hasn’t seen his father for many years but he has not formally abandoned him and is not about to. Therefore Taisiya cannot obtain any child care benefits. She herself was in a hospital not too long ago following a stroke, with two days in intensive care.
You have to see this!!!
You see the girl on the photo, leaning against a door jamb?
That very same Anya who stopped walking during the winter. Her legs could no longer support her so she was able to move only by holding on to stretched-out ropes and stools. “Stress, nerves”–doctors who did not understand what was happening just raised their arms and said many words. But behind all of it there is only one word–“war”.
I wrote about her back in April. Anya is a mother of three who has a loving husband. After an unexpected illness, the family’s entire income went to treat it. But the money was desperately short. And thanks to you, we were able to collect enough for the first round of treatment.
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.
Every paragraph of this post is saturated with facts which one can’t wrap one’s head around. It’s some kind of cold horror. I can’t believe why things turn out that way, with some people suffering so much pain, suffering, and desperation that it’s nearly impossible to believe.
Natasha has had epilepsy her entire life. She had almost no fits before the war, but after 2014 they became constant. Natasha used to work at the post office but was asked to leave after the first fit. Then things got worse. She’d get fired at ever next workplace after the first fit. No labor contracts help. Because they don’t exist, as there are few jobs and plenty of workers. The employer does not need someone disabled. But Natasha is a single mom, who needs to feed not only herself but also her disabled mom and two kids.
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”
Seryozha had a heart attack in May.
He’s been taking many preparations due to his progressing polyarthritis which, unfortunately, also affect his heart.
I wouldn’t say his mood is combative. He even wrote, asking when I’m coming: “will I ever see you again?”
The doctors prescribed a whole range of medications which he’ll have to take for the rest of his life.
His retirement home can only partly fill these needs, and even then with poor substitutes.
We’ve been taking care of Seryozha since the spring of 2015. I don’t like that phrase, though, all the more since Seryozha has become very close to us. But I don’t even know how else to phrase it.
Seryozha lost his home in Khryashchevatoye due to the shelling in the summer of 2014, and then also his leg due to the trauma and illness that he’s had for a long time.
He now lives in a retirement home in Lugansk.
To read more about Seryozha, click on the “Kutsenko” tag at the bottom of this post.
And now he’ll need these medications regularly.
Please label any contributions intended for Seryozha “Kutsenko”.
When the time comes to write another report on helping this or that Donbass family, I invariably freeze in front of the computer for a long time. The first two hundred such posts were full of my emotions and worries. Then they became repetitive. The emotions and worries. Tolstoy wrote that all happy families are alike, unlike the unhappy ones.
But I came to the conclusion that the range of suffering is not all that wide. There are unbelievably many stories of human suffering, but sometimes when delving into a new one, I catch myself thinking I’ve already heard it somewhere. It happened somewhere else. So how to write about it in a small piece of text without repeating oneself?
Is the pain losing its sharpness? Becoming dulled?
No question about it. It all goes in a circle, and I ever more frequently think about my own grandmothers and grandfathers who survived the war. I ever more frequently hear echoes in my own life of us all being children of war. Grandchildren of war, even though it’s long gone.
From this, the meaning of the Donbass tragedy became for me something that already happened, even though it’s expressed with different words.
But that doesn’t make it easier.
Aleksandra is a single mother of three–Tatyana, Nastya, and Lera. This is one of her daughters.
In late April I wrote about Anya, mother of three living in Lugask.
She’s experienced a serious problem–she practically can’t walk. In her home there are ropes and chairs at every step which she can hold on to when moving about. It all happened suddenly, in one day, and the doctors only said it was “stress” and “war.” “Only” is a strange word and probably the wrong one in this context. Because these reasons are sufficient to cause really big problems.
Doctors said there is a chance for full recovery.
So we and you collected money and managed to cover three months of expenses on medications. After that, she started getting injections and IVs, and there was progress. She started to go outside leaning on a cane. With difficulty, with teeth clenched from the pain, but independently, and that’s a lot in her condition.
I haven’t written about Seryozha for a long time. And I should have.
Three years ago, he was always “Sergey Vladimirovich”, and I always addressed him very formally.
Yes, it’s really been three years, we met him in April of 2015, in Khryashchevatoye. He was walking on a crutch wrapped in duct tape. In a barrack where he lived after his home was destroyed by artillery fire there was no water or electricity. The whole village, which was nearly flattened during the summer of 2014, did not have electricity or water for about a year.
After we left him back then, in April, he fell and broke his leg three weeks later. He spent a whole day on the ground–his phone was dead, nobody could hear him screaming. Eventually an ambulance picked him up but it was too late to save his leg. But he survived, even though his life was hinging by a thread. Seryozha has polyarthritis, and he finds it difficult to walk. It’s a miracle we met, otherwise we would not have been able to help him.
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.