We are helping “over there”

People often write me that we’re helping OVER THERE, whereas we should be helping RIGHT HERE. My answer is–yes, probably.
Aid is needed by various people in various places. But it so happened that we’re helping the people of the Donbass. To be honest, I never was involved in helping anyone before the war, except myself. I was never a volunteer anywhere, did not participate in any initiatives. I empathized from afar, sometimes gave money to street musicians, and did reposts on social media. Though that’s been rare in recent times.
It was the war made me, at one point, drop everything, collect a carload of food, and take it into the hell of war. That was Pervomaysk. What’s there to say? It just so happened, I didn’t choose, didn’t decide. It was a spontaneous action which I will never be able to explain.
My first orphanage, dorm, retirement home, hospice, were all on the Donbass.
Where I saw another extreme of life, under wartime conditions. I saw abandoned disabled children, elderly, paralyzed. I encountered lies, deception for the first time. In the midst of war. I don’t know what I found more shocking, military operations or the squalor of human nature.
Years later, this is now a huge part of my life. But here’s what I want to say.
Back then, in 2014, we helped everyone who was there. As years passed, our aid became more selective. We have a very serious filter. Yes, there is an aid filter.

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Redhead News!

We have good news! Hurrah!
Last time I wrote they had problems concerning their custody.
The husband threw out the wife together with the kids out of their home in Crimea. She had no place to go, so she returned to her mother in LPR. That’s where tragedy happened. Her heart gave out, even though she was still young. She died right in front of the kids. The granny, when she returned, saw the kids sitting next to the body. Ever since it’s been a struggle to get the kids’ custody of the kids and depriving the father of parental rights. But since he’s not an LPR citizen, it’s an extra difficulty. But, Thank god! Social services deprived him of parental rights and transferred the case to courts.
With time, the granny will be able to get child care benefits. The most important thing is that all this time she was afraid the kids would be taken away from her.
During all this time, the granny and the kids lived off her retirement and odd jobs and our aid. These odd jobs are not easy to come by. There’s nobody to live the young ones with, and they often fall ill. It’s a complicated story. Anyone who’s raised small children without help knows what it’s like. And she herself is not a young woman, which makes it doubly difficult.

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Holidays and Our Grannies

In addition to presents for children and for institutions, we brought winter holiday presents to all the families we look after.
Our LPR team did massive work before the holidays by bringing families not only presents but also food. Naturally, we had no ability to provide caviar, but we did try to make their none-too-easy lives better.
In this post, there is a report about our heroic grannies who are raising grandkids.
And also the latest news.
You’ve known them all for years.
They are all struggling. In their age, with dozens of ailments, fighting with bureaucracy, they nevertheless raise grandkids. They love them and do the best they can. Some of the have lost their children to the war, which happened in front of the grandkids. And this is probably one of the most horrible things I’ve written about. Children who see the death of their parents.
Friends, thank you for your help and concern!
All of these people have become close to us all.
If you want to participate in helping these families, please label your contributions “grandmas”.
Once again, many thanks to you!
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Optimist

Exactly five years ago I returned from Pervomaysk, LPR.
I was still shivering, but I understood the consequences only years later. Already then, on New Year’s Eve, I sensed the approach of PTSD which has never entirely left me.
I was recently invited to appear on the Zvezda TV channel, about which I wrote sharply and emotionally. Incidentally, my appearance was no less sharp and emotional. The anchor incredulously asked me how I’ve managed to stay positive, having been to war and seen hell.
I’ve always been “Hirosimka”, a positive thinker, but I became a genuine optimist only recently.
Back then, in December 2014, I saw how we don’t know how to take joy in simple things–Mandarin oranges, the vegetable salad for New Year, decorated trees–except in the midst of war. We eternally grumble, things are always bad for us, we’re always lacking something. I remember how back then in LPR trees were being put up and decorated. Even though fighting was still very intense. People had genuine joy. Everyone was asking me whether I had a tree back home, as if that was the most important thing. Turns out it was. Of course, people were asking for peace, were hoping the war would end. But at the same time they were joyful. I returned home to Moscow where all of my friends and acquaintances were complaining from dawn to dusk. I wanted to kill them. I wanted to shake them and slap their faces.
It’s probably then that I became a total and unfounded optimist.
There were many trips to the Donbass after that. So much human suffering that I don’t know whether my fragile human body can withstand it.
It probably cannot. On its own.
But I am not alone. You have been with me all these five years. I would have episodes of hysteria, desperation. I wanted to abandon it all many times, but a single thought that you were with me always helped.
And now it’s a New year and we are still receiving donations for aid. Dear Lord, we are receiving donations for our single grannies, for multi-child families, for cancer patients, children. I don’t know how people find the time, before the holidays and all the craziness nevertheless remember. And today I received many messages from people asking how to donate. Miracles!
So how am I not be happy and certain that all will not simply be well, but better than anything!

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Diana

Friends, we have a new family. I often have to read comments about how Donbass people are freeloaders and we shouldn’t be helping them. It’s saddening to have to time and again explain, prove seemingly obvious things. That people there struggle, that there’s fighting there, and it’s not easy to leave. Yes, it’s not easy, and forget aobu tthe stories about how supposedly here in Russia they are being given everything but they are rudely refusing, they only want to come to Moscow. People, let’s just pause and think about the fact that it’s VERY difficult to get set up, and that not everyone can readily do it. Many of those whom we help have left and tried. But failed. And yes, we should not we are not helping every single person there.
Our people are not those who are simply struggling. They are people who are struggling very hard. It’s awful to have to write such things, but yes, we do see tears from people who did not expect the help. People who often have nobody to turn to, nowhere to go to and, it seems were at some breaking point. Disabled, elderly, single mothers with many children. The most vulnerable.
Our new family is like that.
Look at the kids on the photo. Their mother abandoned them.
She probably doesn’t think she did. Simply dumped them onto her elderly mother, their grandmother, and vanished. Left them in Lugansk and went somewhere without war.
Unfortunately, we sometimes see such “deadbeats”,

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Heroic Grannies

My blog is a paradox in that while 80% of my posts are about the Donbass, the most read posts are the remaining 20%. With the rarest of exceptions. As soon as I stop writing my thoughts and stories, the rating crashes (in the sense of number of views).
My life of late has not been very simple, so I’ve had little time to write the blog about myself. I promise to fix that and continue writing on the favorite themes of “Dunya once again broke/lost something, etc.”
But in spite of the fact the blog lost views, I want to give big thanks to all of those who continue helping the Donbass. In January I will have a many reports from New Year’s events, the first of which already took place. LPR people these days are veritable Stakhanovites, tirelessly delivering presents in one place after another. I will write about that, and post photos, later.
But the main thing is that in addition to presents, our friends continue to deliver aid.
Thanks to everyone who, in spite of the holidays, leave, remember that there are people who need help! This is priceless, and it’s a point of pride that we’ve been able to organize it. Thanks to our entire team which put together these complex logistics!
I’m glad to see that even with the greatest drop in readership (yes, alas, I’m always upset when this happens), the aid continues.
And that’s very cool!
The post is about our friends’ most recent visits to our grannies. Heroic grannies who raised grandchildren on their own. They are all in unbelievably difficult situations. Age, illness, sadness from losing own children, but in spite of all that they have boundless love for their grandkids and do everything for them. What is more, not all parents try as hard.
Thank you for your caring!
If you want to help these families, please label your contributions “grandmas”

__________________________

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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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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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Our Redheads

These two cute sunny redheads lost their mom. Their father abandoned them some time before that. Or, rather, he threw out his wife together with the children, and she was forced to go home, to Lugansk. Yes, to LPR. Elena Mikhailovna, the grandma with whom the children live, doesn’t exactly know what happened. And she’ll hardly ever find out. Her daughter’s heart stopped.
I wrote about the redheads back in July.
Friends, thank you for responding to my post!
In general, it is pleasant to write posts like today’s one. Of course. In the sense that it’s a post about how things are on a mend. With your help and ours. Therefore click, scroll, and smile when reading such posts. It’s impossible not to smile when looking at such kids. Just look!
Since the July 11 post, Lena and Zhenya visited them three times and brought aid (photos below).
Food, toys, books. Also money–11 thousand rubles to fix the boiler.


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Our Lone Grandmas

A small fact gleaned from observing social media and public opinion.
Nearly all my stories about deaths of people we cared for or scandals, like the story of rape attempt of Vika from Vergunka, usually get several tens of thousands of views. But nearly all the texts about how we painstakingly and constantly help people from Donbass get, as a maximum–several hundred, or many even several tens, but definitely not thousands.
That’s how things are.
I know it’s hype. I realize that’s human nature. I understand everything.
But that’s why I don’t give up. Because even though that’s human nature, which needs scandals and blood, a group of people coalesced around me (that’s you, folks)))) which has such big hearts that all of these views lose importance. One and the same set of people keeps sending money. Month after month. Quietly, without letters, we’re simply getting aid. Retirees, students, grown men, fathers of many children, single moms, young girls. Whatever they can.
A single post like this is the result of tremendous effort by many people. It’s not only about our Lena and Zhenya who work miracles while living there, in Lugansk. It’s also about the long chain of caring, love, and kindness of many, many people.
All of these tiny streams transform into big help for many people.
I wrote many times–believe me, it’s not about the packets of food and medications which our team brings the needy. The problem lies in that these people have nobody else to help them. Many of them lost their loved ones. They face unimaginable struggles and they have no option but to survive.
I won’t even mention the fact they live in a war zone.
But now they have us. They know it. It’s tears without end.
Not only of sadness but of joy and gratitude.
How one wants these tears would go away. Reasons for them would go away. But we’re powerless to do the impossible. But we can do that which is within our power. “Do what you can.” So we try.
As best we can.

This post is dedicated to one of the least protected categories of people under our care. We call them “lone grandmas”.
Scroll through the photos. Look at them.
You’ve been observing many families for years. And I repeat the same words month after month.
But…please read, look. I’m asking you.
I also always remind you that if you want to help these families, please label your contributions “grandmas”. Incidentally, likes, comments, reposts all help a great deal too.
Thank you! Thank you for your aid and caring! It gives strength not only to these people, but to all of us. To me.
Thank you for being there. Please forgive me for repeating the same things over and over.
But still–it’s such joy to know you, even if in absentia (though many in person, too).
In hoc signo vinces!

Our Lyubov Mikhailovna with grandkids, Timur and Elisey. She raises them alone. Thank God the unfit mother was deprived of custody by courts (hurrah, since the spring LPR courts have started dealing with civil cases!). But she can’t get custody for herself. Either the judge is on leave, or the assistant “forgot” to deliver the right documents. Which means she has to get all the papers together again in order for her to get child care benefits. They live only off her pension. Lyubov has many health problems, including diabetes.
We’ve recently brought her medications.