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.
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.
Yesterday Vika went shopping on her own. Alone!
Sveta, her mom, quietly observed her. She says the girl messed up only once, she walked past her home. I remember how she, literally a tiny kitten, couldn’t even walk about her room–she took such careful steps, as if afraid she’d fall through thin ice.
Also our lovely lady recently appeared before the local blind circle, sang contemporary songs. People say the girl has quite a voice, strong and clear.
And look at these cheeks!!! You just want to squeeze them!
Do you know who this beauty is?
That’s our Lena.
Let me just tell you one story.
She’s of the Moscow volunteers who in 2015 was helping the people of Lugansk and decided to help one young girl who had cancer. She asked out people to bring her aid.
I don’t know if you remember Nellya. We helped her with this and that–she appears in the general reports.
Face with sharp features, freckles, a tired gaze–one remembers that.
In ’14, right after the “ceasefire” her parents suffered a stroke. Both of them. They couldn’t take the horror of that summer and fall in Lugansk. What’s there to add? Those who were in Lugansk during those months know what it was like. No need to explain…No telephone service, no electricity, no water…Bombardment day and night, night and day….The city is encircled, impossible to leave it. You are being killed by Uragans, Grads, aerial bombs–the so-called “exploding air conditioners” of Ukrainian propaganda. The elderly, who lived through the Great Patriotic War, find it impossible to believe, and there is no way to explain it to them..
Nellya has been taking care of her parents ever since–they can’t take care of themselves…
The woman herself has a 9 year old daughter. Whom she’s raising without husband’s assistance. And she has to worry about her own parents…
Now she herself has developed problems…
It’s been almost four years since Donbass started living in a new reality. At first, this reality was a horror that nobody could accept. Many locals couldn’t believe their fellow citizens were shooting at them. They couldn’t believe something like that was possible. Many left and reordered their lives.
Many since returned. And many others never left. Didn’t manage in time, weren’t able, had no place to go. It’s been four years, and life there goes on. It probably did not cease being a horror. At least to us, who don’t live there. But for those who DO, this horror is simply a given, it’s taken for granted. Life there is different but it does go on. With its own powerful rhythm. Lugansk has restaurants, supermarkets. In the evenings, people come out for strolls and the youth is populating boulevards, like everywhere else in the world. One can sometimes hear volleys and explosions from the outskirts. This is now background noise to which nobody pays attention. There are nightly battles along the separation line. But life goes on in the most direct sense of the word. Maternity wards are full.
We receive the most amazing variety of items intended for the Donbass. Since our volume-handling ability is limited, we try to focus on what the kids need. We sometimes get books. For example, I have a friend named Seryozha with whom I got acquainted through the aid effort. He’s helped us many times with buying and sending medications, wheelchairs, and much else. So, he’s been giving us at least a pair of books for kids before every one of our trips. During our most recent visit we brought books from various people. Zhenya recently donated them to the Lugansk children’s rehab center. I wrote many times about it–we bought wallpapers, paints, sometimes bring food and clothing.
Right now it has 34 kids. This center, where the kids may spend up to 9 months, then they are returned to their families or sent to orphanages. It’s a “buffer” for kids from vulnerable families. It has a large staff of psychologists and social workers.
Here’s a new batch of reports concerning recent aid efforts.
I somehow unnoticeably became the head of a fund for the aid to the people of Donbass.
Sometimes that scares me. I always thought of myself as a nymph with a monofin, not an old lady who’s always something regulating and helping someone. The nymph could carry on about Bertrand Russel, but balancing expenditures on ledgers–that was rather a nightmare. But it’s no big deal–a few taps on the keyboard, and both Hegel and Kant are defeated.
All of our aid is possible not only because there is a blog which shows a photo of me half-bald with a bottle of port.
The top floor of the dorm. A tiny room full of beds.
A slender boy with welts under his eyes, wizened woman with a straight back and beautiful hair, and the unbearably thin Vitaliy, holding a napkin to his mouth
–May I hug you?
That’s the first thing I heard Natasha say when we met.
We had a long conversation.
It defies description.
It defies transmission.