“Hearts of gold”

The story of two sisters from Lugansk living on their own has touched many. My friend went to buy them winter boots, a neighbor regularly send them money. One reader offered to fully pay for the older sister’s university education. In the sense that, if she’s admitted to one, to cover her expenses so that she wouldn’t need to work but only study. An Australian named Denis who doesn’t know the Russian language almost regularly helps them financially. He reads my blog through Google Translate(!). Our Boris from Kazan bought them a water heater to ensure they have hot water. We’ve all collected money to cover their utility debts from the past several years, including for the period they didn’t live at that address. Her mother lived there and amassed such debt that there always existed a threat of water and power cut-off.
I don’t know how I would have acted in their place. I’ve met few people in my life like them.
Alyona and Marina are one of a kind.

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Rodion in Rostov!

 

You’re going to drop dead right now! And you won’t believe it. You’ll say Hirosimka has taken to drinking.
The power of networks continues to amaze yet again! The power of repost (don’t forget about that, by the way!) in action.
Listen!
There’s a kid in Lugansk named Rodion. He’s two and a half. A little dynamo. It so happened that he was born deaf. We were able to organize a free surgery for him to install a cochlear implant in Moscow. Lugansk lacks proper equipment and specialists for something like that. Doctors would say it would take a miracle. That miracle was Irina Bednova who helped organize everything for free in the capital. And that’s a lot of money, believe me.
So in April the boy was taken to Moscow. The operation took place, everything was successful. In May he was brought back for the first tuning. That already had to be paid for. Thanks to you and your aid, we were able to pay for the specialists, Anya (the mom) and Rodion’s stay in Moscow, and bought tickets there and back.
I wrote about all that in detail earlier.
Painstakingly retold the tuning procedure, what the specialists had to say.
And then suddenly I get a letter.

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Now the kidneys

I’m posting an endless quantity of photos of Vika where she’s smiling.
She does, in fact, smile. Every time we brought aid, she’s joyful. Sincerely, earnestly. This is not a forced smile in front of a camera. She’s genuinely happy. Because of the aid, of us, and of your constant attention…
But I don’t know what to do.
I don’t know how to grab the tail of the nightmare which is following this girl.
We met on May of ’16 in Lugansk when she was on the brink of death. Unfortunately, that’s no figure of speech. She started to lose eyesight, two of her front teeth fell out, her thyroid gland was out of control and, most awfully–she lost the will to live. We’ve been fighting for Vika ever since.
We took her to Moscow. Her lungs were operated on since it turned out she had TB. Bought a huge amount of expensive meds. Her eyes and gynecology were also operated on. Constant hospitalizations. In the end she lost her sight and her health continue to crumble. We buy her all the medications she needs. We also get her food, insulin, test strips. But it doesn’t help! Vika has diabetes and, let me tell you, it’s a terrible illness. I can’t even guess the extent. It does not forgive mistakes. You simply have no right to make mistakes, and your whole life becomes a struggle for it. Diabetes did not forgive Vika that spring when she did not eat and simply lay in bed. It did not forgive those few weeks when her brother died, when she did not want to live. When she stopped eating. Terrible processes got underway which we are trying to arrest. But we are not succeeding.
We’re not giving up, we’re fighting. But I don’t know. That’s the truth.
The previous post was about how Vika had an emergency hospitalization due to a burst ovary cyst. It was operated on.
And now I’m writing about Vika’s kidneys failing. Her mom is in panic. One kidney already failed, the second one is in bad shape.
Together with Sasha Shaskova we ran all over Moscow to get the needed medications which can’t be obtained in LPR. She needs to take them for several days (shown on the last photo).
But Vika continues to smile on all the photos. Our Bellflower. Our very own Bellflower.
Beautiful, young, joyful.
How the hell is one to write about it?
What is there to say?


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From Havana!

Our Seryoga is like a smokestack.
No matter what we do, it doesn’t help.
–Seryozha, what should we bring?
His eyes are full of yearning so that there’s nothing you can do to resist. –“Cigarettes, Dunyasha”.
–There are few pleasures in the retirement home. But you know what is the biggest one? Every morning I brew coffee, then I take my tank out into the stairwell and draw on a cigarette…Mmm…
“Tank” is his term for the electric wheelchair.
And you know, he tells you this story with his eyes half-closed, with a sweet smile melting across his face, as if he were resting on a beach, with the ocean licking his heels.
So we gave it a collective shrug. Although, to be honest, his health is not exactly very good. Everyone is trying to get him to stop–the doctors, the retirement home staff. Seryozha has polyarthritis, last year he had a heart attack. Not a laughing matter.
But as soon as I remember his “mmm…” with half-closed eyes, I can’t join in. He’s been smoking his whole life, the devil.
And he smokes the nastiest stuff he can find.
So recently I got a message from Boris. Boris from Kazan who bought a boiler for our sisters and provided the intensive care department with powders and cleaning supplies. And in general regularly helps people in our care. So he says “Dunya, I’m in Cuba right now. Are any of ours smokers? I could bring a cigar…”
Boris! Remembered! About the people we care after! While in Cuba!


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Already can hear!

This tiny apparatus on Rodion’s little ears costs over 700 thousand rubles.
Thanks to this miracle of technology, he can now hear.
–He can already hear?
–Yes, he hears, already hears. But doesn’t understand what.
Rodion had a complicated cochlear implant surgery in April. It’s a miracle which only a few decades ago was impossible.
The boy was born in Lugansk, born deaf. It took a long time to issue the diagnosis. The situation in the region is difficult–isolation, war. What’s there to explain…
No equipment, no specialists who could help the boy. The family did not have the money for the apparatus or surgery.
Thanks to Irina Bednova, we were able to take the boy to Moscow for a free surgery!

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Infant Pathology Ward

One of the Lugansk maternity wards also has an infant pathology ward. It treats premature babies and infants with serious illnesses. Sometimes it also takes case of abandoned infants until they are sent to an orphanage.
Kiryukha was there once, remember?
The ward receives ordinary humanitarian aid–standard baby food, diapers, though sometimes it’s at the end of the list–whatever’s left over. It means that sometimes it gets really large diapers, too large for a premature infant. Such are the times: war.
As I wrote above, the ward receives unusual children, often with major illnesses. Sometimes they are abandoned by their parents because they have no way of helping the babies. That’s how we started helping the ward, after they requested a special formula for Kirill. None of what they had was suitable. Zhenya and Lena barely found it in Lugansk, after visiting every store and warehouse.
And now they called us again.
Recently the ward received a seriously ill girl. Or, rather, an illness she got because of her mother. She needs antibiotics which are not available in LPR. Couldn’t find them in Russia, either. We had to get them through Ukraine.
I won’t describe how exactly we obtained them–it was a rather complex task, considering what you know about that war.
And of course we also brought diapers, formula, which are always in short supply there.

Vika in hospital

Vika had an emergency hospitalization.
Her ovary ruptured.
I have many questions toward the doctors, since Vika was just recently on a scheduled stay and was evaluated by specialists, including gynecologists, who have her “all clear.”
Now all’s well again, and only because Sveta, Vika’s mom, called emergency services.
Thank God.
Given Vika’s range of ailments, combined with the blindness, it’s not good news.


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After the Operation

On April 24th, Rodion and his mom were sent back home to Lugansk.
While we drove them to the bus station, I read about the issuing of Russian passports to L/DPR citizens. I whistled and couldn’t believe my eyes.
Anya, it seems, didn’t understand what I was referring to.
She had a very hard week, she did not sleep at all and did not leave her son.
But Rodion was full of energy and wanted to explore every corner of the bus station.
The operation was successful, the implant was implanted.
He was operated on by one of Russia’s top specialists.
And I want to say, in Anya’s name, in my name, and in the name of our entire team, that we are enormously grateful to Irina Bednova! It is thanks to her this miracle had happened.
Anya, it seems, is still in disbelief.

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Rodion is in Moscow!

Hurrah!
Rodion arrived in Moscow from Lugansk on April 15 in order to undergo a very complex and expensive operation–a cochlear implant.
Rodion is 2.5 years old and was born deaf. This is a costly procedure which entails implanting a hearing device. The sooner it’s done, the more likely the implant is to be accepted, and the boy regaining his hearing.
Thanks to our Irina Bednova, the boy will have this operation for free.
Unfortunately, for objective reasons, we were not able to admit him yesterday. Not all the analyses and mother’s information came in. We had to pay for some additional tests instead.


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Our Bellflower

I was recently asked “How’s our Bellflower?” The “Bellflower” is the name we gave Vika several years ago in reaction to her infectious laughter. May will see the fourth anniversary of us helping this girl from Lugansk.
We met in May ’15. Shortly after her brother’s death, who also had diabetes. It’s been a lifetime since the. During that “lifetime” we have done a lot, but at the same time very little.
We tried to save her eyesight, but couldn’t.
But we did cure her of TB. We did a lot, but also lost a lot, together with Vika.
It’s difficult to write every subsequent Vika post. Because ever time I’m being read by new people, while Vika’s story is a whole big book. A story of one girl, a beautiful girl suffering from diabetes, who lost everything, first and foremost eyesight, due to the war…
Vika’s story is indicative in many ways. One has to understand that the war kills and crushes the most vulnerable. Not only with shells. Sometimes with far more elementary means–wrong insulin, lack of test strips, poor nutrition…
To read more about Vika, click on the “Vika” tag at the bottom of this post.
And yes, it’s also a story about people who care, people who are responsive, people who love. Vika has received help from all over the world–UK, Germany, USA, etc.
So, how is our Bellflower doing?


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