I’m often called a volunteer, but that’s not true. I’m no volunteer, not even an aid worker.
I don’t know how to properly label that which I do. I realized that I can’t be a volunteer who helps hospice patients, the disabled, the elderly. I can write a report, can place myself in someone else’s place and write about that, go to the “front” where there’s danger. Yes, I will be afraid, just like any normal person. But I’ll get over it. But looking into the eyes of people who have only very little time left is beyond my strength. I wasn’t able to get used to in even in three years. Abandoned elderly, disabled kids, the dying in hospices–all of it kills me. I can’t.
But our Lena can. I don’t know how. I don’t know where she gets her strength from.
As of late, one can detect contempt toward our emigrants emanating from among the patriotic community. “Traitors”, “don’t let the door hit you on the way out.” I don’t find it pleasant to read, and I want to not only defend our people abroad but say that many of them are bigger patriots than people who put “Thank you Grandfather for the Victory” stickers on their cars, but at the same time behave rudely and don’t let pedestrians cross the road.
I’ve encountered that directly. I’m not talking about the rude individuals but Russian patriots in other countries.
There are many of them among my readers. And!
Many of them continually help the Donbass.
The majority of funds for the aid effort is coming from them, the inhabitants of Canada, USA, Australia, Germany, England, Austria, Norway, etc.
During these years, I’ve found lots of groups on facebook, LiveJournal, VK, where people cooperate, assemble truckloads of aid, and send it to the Donbass.
One can hardly imagine what it takes–organizing logistics into the unrecognized republics from abroad! It’s extremely complex, I know what I’m talking aobut.
They do it themselves, through foundations, through volunteers such as myself. And if you think they are former inhabitants of Lugansk and Donetsk regions, you are mistaken.
Many of them are from families which have never visited these places. And I am once again happy to witness all this and to be able to help.
I wrote a big piece about the events in LPR, then erased it.
Too many emotions–I was remembering ’14, ’15.
It’s better I tell you about the Novosvetlovka hospice again.
This village was one of the most damaged during this war.
During the summer of ’14 it was nearly wiped off the surface of the earth. There was hard fighting. On every street there were many burned out tanks and APCs. Dozens of ruins where houses used to be. So many stories about marauders, about the locals whom the Aidar Battalion herded into the church. Many of the surviving houses were utterly looted.
The church, incidentally, has been restored. Many of the damaged homes were rebuilt too. Ukraine played no part in it at all, even though it still views this territory as its own but at the same time is refusing to pay even the pensions to people who for all these years worked and paid taxes into its budget.
The hospital’s maternity ward that was hit by many shells and in whose cellars many of the villagers were surviving, a hospice was opened in ’16. I write about it from time to time.
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.
Three years ago, when I first visited this town, it had no hospice. Only a hospital that suffered from bombardments. A big, good hospital. It stayed open during the whole “war”. War? Yes, Novosvetlovka was bombed to bits during the summer of 2014. Those who were here know what happened. Even I saw, during the winter of 2014/15 a burned out APC or a tank on every street. Bunkers and destroyed homes everywhere. These were the first of the most awful sights I saw during the war on the Donbass.
With time, the damaged maternity ward was turned into a hospice. A place where people depart. We came here already several times with aid. They have noone else to turn to. We are de-facto the only people to help them. They currently have 28 patients. They get medications, but the rest…
Nothing has changed since our last visit. The biggest problem is with adult disposable diapers. Relatives bring them in some cases, but some patients have no relatives at all. Staff deals with the situation as best it can. But it is a problem. A big problem. Because the less often you change the diapers, the more skin problems. Bed sores, lesions…And corresponding odors…
Marina Anatolyevna seems like a young girl. We met her during the summer. At the time she was already in charge of the Novosvetlovka hospital hospice for six months. Bangs, thin arms, and eyes full of wonder.
In 2014, Novosvetlovka was just about wiped off the face of the Earth. But it wasn’t. It withstood the assault. Although its hospital was badly damaged, just like most of the homes, which became ruins. Some of the wards were closed altogether, including the maternity one. Many sat through the bombings in the hospital’s basement.
After a while, the hospital was renovated and new wards were op;ened.
Unfortunately, maternity was not one fo them.
Now it houses a hospice. It’s small–right now there are 25 people there. They put in charge a young doctor, Marina Anatolyevna Astakhova.
When I visited it during the summer, instead of this blue plate there was simply a piece of paper with typed letters.
This is the last holiday greetings post from our team.
This is the Lugansk Hospice associated with the regional hospital’s cancer ward.
For most of the people on these photos, it’s their last New Year celebration.
We decided to bring holiday greetings to these people, that was the right thing to do.
I won’t speculate concerning your emotions on that day. I also won’t say anything. Because what’s there to say?
I have nothing to say about the US elections. But I do know that Zaitsevo and other border towns on the Donbass were being ground to powder at that time. People died, houses burned. In the literal, not figurative sense…
I also know about ordinary people’s lives in this unusual region where a war is raging.
Everyone’s gotten used to it. The inhabitants are used to it, we’re used to it, I’m used to it. But everyday activities, for example, the operation of hospitals and hospices, suffer from problems whose existence we don’t even suspect.
This is the Lugansk hospice attached to the cancer ward. That’s where our Ira is.
These institutions have the lowest priority for aid. Medicaments are most important. The rest is an afterthought. But how is one supposed to wash, disinfect, do laundry? Nobody’s thinking about that. If they are, they lack the means. And yet this hospice where the ill come to die. Many of them can’t even take care of their basic needs anymore.
The doctors and nurses need paper and pens to write on and with, but those are shortage items too. Lightbulbs do burn out, and switches break, like everywhere else.
The workers here have to bring their own supplies from home. Just think about it–the workers spend their miserly wages so that there is light and paper ant work…And so that the ill are able to read books in the evenings…
There was a large maternity ward in the Novosvetlovka hospital. It was destroyed during the war in the summer of 2014. Other wards, including therapy and infection treatment, also suffered. Novosvetlovka was wiped off the face of the Earth. Whole streets turned into ruins. When I visited there the first time, every street had several burned out tanks and APCs.
The hospital has been reconstructed, but instead of the maternity ward, there is a hospice.
Someone dies here nearly every day. And someone else takes their place.
–Though nobody died over the weekend.
Anya spoke about it as if we were discussing taking up a new job.
I lost my train of thought.
–Is it hard to work at the hospice, where there a constant presence of death?
–I got used to it.