What is 400 rubles to you?

–You recognized me?
–Little one! Of course!!!
We quickly found Galina Vasilyevna.
One might say it was thanks to her that we started to bring aid to Khryashchevatoye.
We came during the winter, took photos. Destroyed houses, APCs, and chunks of military equipment.
We saw her as she was slowly walking among burned out tanks and shattered fences.
Khryashchevatoye is a small village.
It was small, then it became downright tiny, as most of it turned to ruins…
Half of it still has no electricity. Nobody has running water. Nobody is drawing salaries, pensions, benefits. They live off whatever grows in their gardens and humanitarian aid which rarely reaches them.
Galina Vasilyavna is little, almost puny. One wants to hug her and carry her in one’s arms.
We came as promised.

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Sergey Vladimirovich Kutsenko.
His house was totally destroyed by artillery back in August. No family, he lives alone in a barrack…
The girls from Khryashchevatoye village council helped us distribute aid.
–He’s been ill for a long time, something with his legs. It’s like they are rotting. I don’t know.
We drive up to a single-story building, but he’s not there.
–He can’t have gone far.
Sergey Vladimirovich was walking with a single crutch, broken and held together by tape. He was barely walking–rocks, holes, his legs can’t hold him up. The crutch is also barely supporting him.
He has no water or electricity.
I don’t know why, but he really touched my soul for some reason.

Yes, he.
When I was little, very little, I loved men with mustaches.
My dad never had one. But I really loved mustaches. I always wanted him to have one.  I remember my girlfriend had a young dad with mustache, and I adored him. Everyone was laughing at me.
When I saw Sergey Vladimirovich, everything inside turned upside down. It was something from there, from my memories, from childhood. These distant sansations.
He was the last person we visited, after many other elderly, disabled, and no shortage of terrifying personal stories. But I remembered him particularly well.
And, you know, he has an unbelievable gaze. Strong, unbending. He does not evoke pity. Even though the heart breaks.
A tiny room. Bed, two chairs, a table…
–Pardon for the mess, bachelor’s life is like that.
Then he smiles endearingly. He barely walks, his legs shake. But he’s worried about the mess.
He lives alone, cooks alone. Neighbors help him, bring him water.
But he stays mostly in bed, due to terrible pain.
The room is clean, nothing scattered on the floor. There is a stove next to the bed, with a tea pot…
–May we take a photo?
Sergey Vladimirovich takes out a comb that’s tied to a stick. Apparently it’s more convenient that way…
–What’s with the legs?
–Progressive polyarthritis. I let it get out of hand. It started in the ’90s.
He looks at us.
–You see, you have to take care of yourself when you are young. Guys, where did you come from?
–From Moscow.
–I served with a tank regiment there. As a tank commander. Ahh, Moscow.
And he smiles.
You know what? He has pride. Some old ladies begin to cry, often on purpose in order to evoke pity.
Sergey Vladimirovich is cut from an entirely different cloth. He has a different sort of gratitude, it’s so sincere and genuine that it touches the heart.
He rushed to accompany us, wanted to walk with us. In spite of his unbearable pain and suffering.
In spite of his damned crutch.
–Sergey Vladimirovich, we’ll be back.
When we returned home, I told everyone about him. We were at Zhenya’s with Galya Sozanchuk, a hero and a reporter who, like me, also collects aid through the internet, specifically through facebook, and delivers it herself. One might say she’s a colleague.
Thanks Galya!
Galya reacted immediately.
–I have crutches from someone in Moscow.
The next day, we arrived at Sergey Vladimirovich’s place with new crutches and two bags of food.
–Oi, my adrenalin is racing now, daughter…I don’t know what to say…

In reality, he lives in very rough conditions, he needs serious treatment and a pile of drugs. We’ll definitely visit him again and try to help him, not only with food but also by improving his living conditions.
After all, he’s lost everything and lives completely alone.

If you want to help the people of the Donbass, write me in person through LiveJournal, facebook, or email: littlehirosima@gmail.com.


To survive one’s second war

Nikolai Ivanovich Kozlov
House completely destroyed. Only stumps remain of the walls.
On August 14, 2014, he lost a hand to shrapnel.
Anna Nikolayevna, his faithful wife, is sitting next to him on the bench, placing her hand over his leg. She automatically tries to find his hand, to cover it, to stroke it.
But the hand’s gone. She takes her hand away in confusion, then places it back, trying to find it…

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Amidst ruins

We have returned. To another reality. To another world.
In Moscow, there are restaurants, intact houses, shops full of stuff, but the absence of (sanctioned) prosciutto means it’s a disaster rea.
In the tiny Khryashchevatoye, out of 527 houses, 80 burned to the ground, 27 were completely destroyed by Grad rockets, howitzers, and mortars, down to their foundations, 77 are too badly damaged to warrant rebuilding. As to the remainder, they all lost their windows, as well as roofs and walls to some extent. 34 people were killed. In the neighboring Novosvetlovka, 600 wounded and 200 dead. There are burned-out tanks and APCs on every streets. And ruins, ruins, ruins….With people, children, life, amidst the ruins…
Read about that life.

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Humanitarian Aid, Fifth Truck

Two tons of food, plus baby clothes, diapers, food, and gifts.
You won’t believe it, but in addition to wheelchairs we brought a brand-new plastic window (Sveta, thanks!), boxes of pots,mixers (Natasha, super!) and a whole bunch of other useful stuff.
People often write me that there’s a ceasefire right now, it’s quiet, there’s plenty of aid without us.
I’ll answer: they can use us and then some. Trust me, it’s an ongoing catastrophe. People are barely surviving.
It seems nobody is dying of hunger, at least not in Pervomaysk. It is quieter, artillery shells are not exploding as frequently as before, though you can often hear small arms fire. Yes, it’s a ceasefire, but everyone is expecting another round of hell.
Utilities people deserve a monument. They quickly react to what’s happening. They fix, repair, restore. For free–salaries are paid only infrequently. Many have been left with nothing, and are living in the cellars and shelters. They wear donated clothes, eat food from humanitarian aid.
In some townlets, like Khryashchevatoye and Metallist, humanitarian aid situation is awful. They suffered heavily during the summer, now they are well behind the front lines, but…they’ve been forgotten.

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