You thought our New Year posts have come to an end? No, there is more!
There is a community of the blind in Lugansk, which includes our Vika. They have holiday parties, and we conveyed New Year greetings to them. It seems nobody has done that before us…
The tree celebration was in early January. I did not attend, but Lena and Zhenya recorded everything)))
–I have a DVD player and a huge bag of dvds with cartoons. It’s a pity to throw them out–that collection took a long time to assemble! But now it’s all on the internet…Perhaps someone on the Donbass might find a use for it?
So I kept thinking.
–Bring it along!
And now all these dvds, the player, and all manner of arts and crafts supplies are going to Lugansk with us. Anya, you had doubts?! You’re my precious!)
They proved useful after all, very much so!)))
A young father stands by the doorway. He’s pacing in the snow, he’s not dressed for the outside, jumps up and down. Sees our car, waves at us.
–We’ve been waiting for you since early morning. Got very nervous.
He speaks in plural, gets frantic–he’s trying to shake our hands, runs ahead of us, then lets us pass.
–Vika, they’re here!
We enter the apartment, and there’s an 11 year old girl with her mom, trying to avert her gaze. She saw us, crossed her fingers, and turned away.
Mom is holding her by the hand, hugs her, but the girl is still afraid, though she’s no longer looking away.
Then everything was like in a fog. The girl haltingly reads poems about frost and wind.
She’s very shy, though it’s clear she’s trying very hard. Everyone is helping her, the mom, and dad, Grandfather Frost and I. Then we hugged her, and she was speechless.
As we’re leaving the mother grabs us by the hand–her eyes are full of tears.
–Mom, give me your hand.
Vika jumps onto the couch, spreads her hands, and fixes her long, lovely hair. Sveta holds her hand, but Vika is already performing.
–Music, more music! I’m singing!
We visited Vika in Grandfather Frost and Snow Maiden costumes, and the girl decided to honestly earn the presents we were bringing.
She couldn’t see our New Year’s costumes. Between you and I, she doesn’t even know what I look like. To her, I’m some Dunya who’s her height, but she knows my voice, knows it very well.
When she listens, she tilts her head and tries to listen not only what is being said, but sense all the intonations.To capture the connection between what is being said and how it is being said.
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.
The last two days were perfectly crazy, as we, dressed up as Grandfather Frost and Snow Maiden visited practically all of Lugansk.
By the evening we were barely standing and it seems I dreamed we visited more kids and made them read poetry.
Cars were honking at us, people were waving and nearly all the adults were excitedly conveying us New Year’s greetings.
We visited many apartments, but this post will cover only those which you already know.
The people we help, those whom you periodically see on the pages of this blog.
Here we are visiting the family of Vitaliy, a militiaman from Rubezhnoye. Vitaliy spent over a year in captivity in Ukraine. Now he, his wife, and son live in a dorm in Lugansk.
Remember Nellie, who looks like a vixen? She’s raising a 9-year-old daughter on her own. Her parents had a heart attack and a stroke right after the bombardment of Lugansk, and she’s been taking care of them every since–they can’t do it themselves. The whole family is hanging together. But then a swelling was discovered in her body, which was soon diagnosed as cancer. We’ve been helping her with medications.
I wrote about her in October.
She’s undergone a surgery and a course of treatment.
Good news from Vergunka, near Lugansk. It’s a major source of joy, even though we are a bit late reporting it, but we found out about it only recently. The village now has water. For the first time since 2014! People had to carry it in buckets–that’s how laundry, washing, cooking, gardening was done.
That’s how it was.
Ira, who’s raising two kids by herself, lives there. The husband left to look for work at the start of the war and vanished. Abandoned them.
Ira was pregnant, in the last trimester. When Vergunka was shelled she escaped tot he city. The village was right on the line, half the street was leveled. Ira’s house was badly damaged too. The roof caved in, walls collapsed. When she returned, “everything has been looted, down to the spoons and dishrags.”
Our friends. That’s what we call them–“survivors of captivity.”
Things are improving. The whole family has passports, and not without our help. I’m glad this blog contains not only sad stories but also positive ones, when one has something to smile about or be proud of. I’m glad you and us were to help this family.
All the documents, and all of their lives, remained over there, in Ukraine. Where both husband and wife have arrest warrants for “separatism.” There is no way back for them. Everything–their property and belongings, elderly parents, relatives, is back there. But they don’t have any contact with anyone anymore, “so that nobody is placed in danger.”
They went through a grinder. Vitaliy spent a long time in captivity in Ukraine where he had all of his teeth knocked out and was badly injured. Natasha and her son was in hiding until they managed to escape into LPR where they finally were able to relax. Vitaliy was in the militia from the start. Natasha helped organized the referendum in Rubezhnoye. It’s a miracle they were able to hide. They went from apartment to apartment for months, unable to even go out to shop…
Now they live in a Lugansk dorm. Their son has improved, the problem was in poor nutrition of the whole family. He’s had several hunger-induced blackouts, nervous system issues, and serious headaches.
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. Continue reading →