“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”.

“It will be enough for two months”

Lana married young. She went far away to live with her lover, got pregnant, but the beatings started almost immediately. It was so bad the girl ran off with her newborn to mother. The three of them have been living together ever since on the Pobedonosnaya St. in Lugansk. Those who spent 2014 in Lugansk know that in August artillery shells came in every day. Lana described how she saw “a woman torn in half” while waiting in line for water distribution.
There was no water, no electricity, no phone service. One could survive without many things, but not without bread and water. People came out of their apartments to get them, right under the shells.
I remember very well how the locals and Zhenya described August of that year at the time, shortly after these events. People could hardly bring themselves to talk about it. And if they did, only with trembling voices and flowing tears. Zhenya: “At that time, the ‘liberators’ were entertaining themselves by shooting at people who stood in line for water and bread, and where there was still phone service. Hundreds of people would meet there to send news to their relatives they were still alive. But the spotters worked there too.”
I remember how Zhenya told us about going to the roof to catch a phone connection to send a text message he’s still alive. There were no communications, but it was clear the city was under fire.

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Anya is walking!

You have to see this!!!
You see the girl on the photo, leaning against a door jamb?
That’s Anya!
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.

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Life in the Midst of War

An old friend recently wrote me a letter in which he was upset that, judging by my postings, one would think everything’s going badly in LPR. Because there are positive examples too. I could answer my readers that no, not everything is going badly. There are families whose affairs are in principle going well. Moreover, I would say there are people, everywhere, of a kind capable of surviving in any situation. And not only survive but find work or ways to make money even where it’s impossible. It’s as if they are literally a tank, they can fight to the end. But there aren’t so many of them. Since I mainly write about those who need help, my reports don’t include many positive examples. Not because they don’t exist, but because we help those who can’t help themselves. People with problems or in dire straits. Illness, loss of house, wounds. It’s single elderly, single moms with many kids, disabled.
And here’s what I wanted to say. If one were to work as an investigator, with time one starts thinking everyone around is a criminal. It’s a point of reference, a vantage point which influences one’s perception of the situation and the world as a whole. So it’s important to preserve clarity. I don’t know whether I have such clarity. What I see in LPR is, in most cases, sadness. It’s a region in a state of uncertainty where it’s nearly impossible to exist and improve one’s situation. The Republics are not recognized, formally they don’t exist, nearly all the economic ties have been interrupted, and yes, there’s fighting. People are getting by. But its possible my pessimism has to do with my vantage point, not objectivity. I don’t know.
But from what I see in shops, on the streets, and all the institutions I visit, people are for the most part surviving. Many (though not all, of course), those who could, left. I see heroic doctors, emergency first responders, utilities workers, who helped ordinary people under a rain of rockets. I see many genuine people, People with a capital P. But most of them are struggling. They have poverty wages, it’s hard to find work, and the prices in shops are like everywhere else. Many survive thanks to gardens and relatives. Possibly this is my own vantage point. Because barber shops, beauty salons, supermarkets where there are dozens of sausage brands and red fish keep on working. Sushi bars and restaurants are opening up, which apparently have a clientele? So there are consumers.

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Larisa

Larisa’s husband and son went off to defend their home on the Donbass in early 2014. The son was 20, when the war began he took up arms. They both defended Severodonetsk. Now this city is under Ukraine. During the UAF breakthrough, they both served at an outpost between Severodonetsk and Rubezhnoye. The father sent the son to Dremov to get reinforcements. They arrived–the father and others were brought out from under fire. But not everyone was evacuated, some remained. But here’s the interesting thing: there was a local “forest ranger”. It’s not his call sign, he genuinely was one. He brought the UAF through back trails to encircle those who remained. Who were all killed. Then he ran from his “hometown”, knowing his days there were numbered after what he did. Valera, Larisa’s husband, died later, in Kirovsk in April 2015. He is buried on the Alley of Glory in Stakhanov. The son suffered a serious wound after that.

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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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Our Lives’ Backdrop

I was sorting through the photos from our March visit to Lugansk and found this one.
That’s how the three kids of Ira and Petya were seeing us off. They are from Pervomaysk, or rather from a small village nearby that’s under UAF control.
It was snowing, and the boys were glued to the window and kept waving to us while we were trying to start the car. We looked at each other to the last.
Now it’s hot summer, Moscow and other big cities are up to their ears in the World Cup carnival.

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Discharged

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”.

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.

More Aid

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.

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Liliya’s last days

Posts like this one are very hard to write and we put them off until the end. I was srecently asked how Liliya was doing and I realized that I was subconsciously evading talking about it. Liliya has been dying and everyone, including herself, know that but there is nothing to be done. Liliya has terminal cancer which is irreversible. Moreover, the woman has no relatives who could help and visit her. Only her son, who is in need of assistance himself. When I was in Lugansk in late April I was not able to visit Liliya. I couldn’t find the strength.
Liliya is burning out and we realize she can die at any moment. I wanted to write that Liliya is alive thanks to a miracle and it’s improbable that she’s still alive at all given her diagnosis. Last fall she was given weeks. But I know this miracle has a name–our Lena.
She visits Liliya three times a week. Three times a week she spends hours with Liliya, supporting her, keeping her company. Three times a week she brings Liliya food, diapers, which are indispensable. Also brings medications which the hospice can’t provide. And she’s like a squeezed out lemon after every visit.
Lena, there are no words which can express that kind of gratitude.

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