The Lugansk City Center for Social Services is assisting 13 families with foster children.
You know some of them. For example, the Testeshnikovs, whose daughter Kristina is an insulin-dependent diabetic. We’ve brought her test-strips more than once.
The Testeshnikovs actually have two foster daughters, and not only Kristina has health problems. The second girl has heart problems.
The Testeshnikovs took in the two girls when they were not very young, and at the time they were healthy. The problems appeared later. They did not give the girls back. What do you think–is it right, and incorrect, for me to view this father and mother as heroes? And incorrect when they behave otherwise? Because it’s normal for many people return foster kids when they discover these types of problems. When they discover pathologies and disabilities, even after many years of living together. How many stories like that did we hear in orphanages. Therefore I’m happy even in situations where it should be a normal thing to do.
The parents love the girls and are doing their best to take care of them.
Ekaterina Dmitriyevna finds it difficult to walk. She walks slowly, swaying from side to side.
She’s 82, and she lives in Pervomaysk, LPR.
She has nobody–no grandkids, no husband–nobody.
And homeless. Her home was smashed during the fall of 2014.
It was quiet in Kalinovo. Even though today is the lottery.
The village is long–I’ve never seen anything like it–27 kilometers. From Pervomaysk to Bryanka. More than half-marathon. Except it’s impossible even hypothetically because shelling is a daily occurrence. It’s been like this for three years. We forgot, we can’t believe, it seems vague to us, we push it out of our thoughts. Even among LPR inhabitants there are those who don’t know what happens on the line of contact. The media don’t draw attention to it, and people simply stopped paying attention.
Kalinovo has its own hospice. That’s where we went.
Ira was sad. And also very tired. The weariness was evident in everything–her walk, her smile. It seemed she had shrunk. So tiny, so fragile.
The door was opened by a funny zebra, Ira’s older daughter. The zebra was only missing a tail, but did have funny ears and a long mane hidden under the hood.
There was another little girl running around, very funny even though not a zebra.
The younger daughter.
Remember Natasha from Lugansk, for whom we collected money two years ago to buy a hearing aid?
She’s in difficult situation. Can’t find work, and has to take care of two kids. Her hearing got worse after she found herself under shellfire in ’14, so much so she can’t hear at all. The aid helped, but she still asks to repeat almost every phrase.
They live off child benefits and occasional piecework. But she hasn’t found a permanent job. LPR has big problems with work. Many factories, mines are closed for obvious reasons.
That’s where things stand.
In September, Natasha climbed a tree to pick some nuts and fell. Broke a leg and is now hopping on crutches.
Just to top things off, her electricity was cut off for nonpayment.
Perhaps I should tell you about the main reason for this trip to Lugansk?
Here’s what happened.
One evening, when I was already falling asleep, I got a letter from Natasha. Her profile photo shows an unbelievably beautiful blonde–I had no idea. “Dunya, tell me, how are things with the wheelchair for Seryozha Kutsenko?” How are things? They are nowhere. It’s expensive, I say. Electric ones are like that. Can’t collect enough money.
“Maybe I’ll buy one?”
And things took off.
We started with looking at a used, cheap one, and ended with a cool German brand new one that’s insanely expensive.
This lovely lady totally stunned me, and on top of that keeps saying there’s no need to write about it. Yeah right, Natasha. I’ll post the best photo right here. Let others envy me.
All in all, we managed to get it by Seryozha’s birthday (actually a couple of days later) and went to surprise him.
The first shocking thing I encountered on the Donbass in December of 2014 were the clean streets. I drove with my eyes wide open, trying to understand what was happening. Grannies were sweeping up the trash right next to bombed-out buildings. Sweepers with brooms marched down roads. Swings were being installed on playgrounds. “One of the neighbors did that”. Fighting at that time was intense, and people were trying to keep their cities in order. I never stopped being amazed by that–the cleaning was being done by public service workers and by ordinary citizens. A little thing, it would seem, but it really stood out given what else was happening.
I particularly like the decorations next to houses–swans from tires with hats from cans, bellflowers made from bottles.
So our 17 moments have come and gone. Three years ago I thought by now I’d have a million trips under my belt, but it turned out only 17. Or, rather, as many as 17?
The first year, we went to the Donbass almost every year. Loading, purchasing, renting a car, visiting the house-turned-warehouse. Now we by everything on the spot, and there is not as much need to go as often. We managed to establish a system which we can operate from afar.
Here is another post about our friends from Rubezhnoye. Who survived captivity in Ukraine.
How are things? It depends.
But the main thing that makes our team happy is that the boy, their son, now feels fine at last.
His fainting spells passed. As did the headaches.
They visited every conceivable doctor, including a dentist. I think it was not a matter of diagnosis and treatment.
The boy simply needed decent food which the family could not afford.
Calm and, of course, the parents who do not fear tomorrow…
I must have started this post, erased it, and started over, at least ten times.
It’s hard to write things differently. So that people would notice and read.
It is…I don’t know…
These women are at war every day. Every day they are in their own trenches.
They fight, they struggle for every moment. With their kids, loved ones.
“Our girls”–that’s how Zhenya refers to them, irrespective of age.
Our girls have cancer. They live in Lugansk…They have their own war. They are at war…
We try to do everything we can in this situation. We try to help…