August 2015, Lugansk. Terrible heat, we’re carrying diapers and walking down a snow-white hospital corridor with covers over our feet. There is the tiny and beautiful Kirill in on a plastic bed in a room. Newly born, abandoned by his other. The ward lacks the necessary diapers. They asked us for help–we came.
Winter 2015. A call–there is a need for special formula for prematurely born babies. In a Lugansk hospital. Also diapers of the smallest size possible. Those which the ward does have are huge, the kids are lost in them. They have no other kind, and they are running out. The boy was prematurely born, an orphan, abandoned.
His name is Kirill.
I really don’t want my reports from the Donbass to be only about sad things. Or, rather, I’d prefer that, when you saw my posts in your feed or on your wall, your heart did not shrink with sadness and you did not think that it’s another awful story about how someone died, is dying, or has lost everything. Yes, there are many such stories. War is a tragedy, broken lives, pain, and our shame.
But in reality, the history of the war in these posts is not only a story of suffering, unlucky people. It’s also stories about heroes, about strong people. About closely knit families, about people with unbelievable willpower and–most importantly–this blog’s story is the story of mutual assistance. Of the great cycle of goodness. And I want you to know that hundreds of people are behind our goodness. Various people. And all of them have enormous hearts.
Please remember this when you read my stories and reports.
Here, for example, is Anya from Moscow. She is in a very difficult situation–her daughter is disabled. I first encountered her in my life when I read about Vika whom we then took to Moscow for eye treatment. It turned out she has TB. She then lost her boyfriend, her grandmother died, and she had already lost her brother before that. Vika was greatly depressed and I didn’t know how to improve her mood. She needed strength and hope.
–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!)))
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.
If someone tells you that our people are indifferent, simply send this “someone” the greetings from the hundreds, no, thousands of children, elderly, or simply inhabitants of the Donbass who got food, clothes, household items, medications, from our caring people.
Not only from Russia but from every continent. Irrespective of political views. Many of them have no connection whatsoever to Donbass or Ukraine. For example, Pavel. He lives in Austria. Since the beginning of the war, he’s been regularly helping the Donbass through various foundations. I know him only through a short exchange of messages over the internet. He’s made a second transfer of money earmarked for helping the Lugansk Orphanage.
It currently houses 107 abandoned kids, some of whom are disabled.
Supply situation there greatly improved. While at the war’s start these institutions were in dire shape, right now it’s a different story.
Dasha, Dasha, you are a joyful little bunny.
When we came to visit you at the orphanage in Stakhanov, you were still asleep. But when you woke up, you quietly, on tippy-toes, went to your secret stash from where you got your valuables. You gave your candy that you’ve hidden as a present. You gave it as if it were a tiny gold coin. You grasped it firmly and looked me in the face: “Take it, it’s a gift. For you.”
Dasha, Dasha. You don’t even know what had happened to your mother.
I was recently looking at photos taken in December 2014 in Pervomaysk, and I saw you one one of them. Smiling, with your brother. At that time, it was us giving you candy. And we didn’t know one another at all. I looked at these photos and couldn’t believe my eyes. It was you, but smaller. Your city was being constantly bombed, and we were bringing food for your communal eateries…You and your brother were running inside one of the eateries, and in the background one could hear the frightening and dull blows of incoming shells.
Your house was gone and you were living with your mom in a dorm where we met later. But even then your mother did not leave you here.
Now you are waiting for her and thinking only of her.
–Greetings, we’d like to help. What do you need?
–Thanks, but we have everything we need.
–How about diapers, presents for the kids?
A pause, follow by slow and deliberate words:
–We are not asking for anything, but we’d be VERY happy to get some…fruits, presents…and diapers…
That’s how every LPR institution reacts.
That they have everything.
Who’s awesome? We’re awesome!
We collected money for a boiler for the Lugansk Children’s Socio-Psychological Rehabilitation Center. We didn’t just collect! We also bought and delivered a boiler! Isn’t that something?
About two weeks ago I wrote that the center’s boiler broke down and the kids had no hot water. It’s already winter, and no government agency can help them. In Lugansk the winter is no less severe than in Moscow. People who say it’s in southern climes are lying. You get cold there no less, and perhaps even more, than in Moscow. The summer-time peaches and grapes are an optical illusion.
I’m proud this blog linked me up with some amazing people. For example, Lena. She did not want to appear to the public, not because she’s afraid or shy. Her social media wall is full of reposts concerning helping the Donbass. It’s just that she’s a modest and caring person. Literally immediately after the “Time for hot water!” post she contacted us and sent us more than half of what we needed. Lena is participating in our efforts nearly constantly. I also got a response from my beloved Chris, and also Winston who often (Chris nearly all the time) send money. Yes, yes, Americans, who read me through Google Translate (dear Lord, how can one make sense of it?).
I know Lena in person and have met more than once.
I hope that one day I’ll be able to visit the US and get acquainted with my correspondence friends)
I have so many of them)
My friends! Thank you!
About the boiler, now that we bought one.
Zhenya wrote the following, but since I didn’t understand a thing, I couldn’t think of anything better than copy and paste:
“This is one tricked-out boiler (something only Zhenya would say). First of all, it’s not covered simply with enamel but with some ultra-long-lasting crap so that, if you clean it once a year, it will be able to survive 10 years of heavy use (because it’s here not to simply heat water for washing, but for washing 48 urchins). Secondly, and this is really important, it has two (TWO) dry heating elements. The fact they are dry means they will not burn out in our awful water in a year. Wet elements get covered with residue (here the water has high salts content) which reduce their heat conductivity so that they burn out. In this boiler, the elements have no contact with water so there’s no residue and they will last far longer than wet ones. Secondly, there’s not one but two elements which means the water can be heated very quickly, when lots of kids have to be washed.”
Oh, these wet and dry elements!
Music to my ears.
As promised, all the leftover funds from what people donated for the boiler we’ll spend on the food they need. I don’t know how happy the kids will be made by chickens, fish, and butter (my own daughter would totally prefer some junk) but I think they’ll be happy to see mandarin oranges and apples.
Thanks to all who helped!
By the way, we’re off again soon. I think I wrote about that yesterday?
Well, we’ll definitely visit one of the orphanages. Therefore if you want to help the kids of the Donbass, please write me in person through LiveJournal, facebook, V Kontakte, or email: email@example.com. Paypal address: firstname.lastname@example.org
This happened during the summer.
We were running from house to house with aid packets when Anna Viktorovna, the director of the Lugansk Children’s Rehab Center, called with an unexpected request. We usually help with food, medicaments, or other necessities. Such as cleaning supplies, diapers, etc., because we grew accustomed to focusing on these key areas. But Anna Viktorovna asked us for glue and wallpaper.
It wasn’t exactly an emergency request but we couldn’t ignore it. Because the center gets no assistance except through volunteers. Anna Viktorovna said that LPR did assign funds for renovating the center, but it was enough just for the basics, and there wasn’t enough for restoring the hallway.
So we grabbed one of their workers and went shopping.
–Dunya, I miss my mom. I want to go home, can you give me a ride?
But Dasha no longer has a home. She had one until she and her brother were dropped off by their mother at the rehab center in the dormitory organized by the city commandant’s office for those whose homes were destroyed by the Ukrainian military.
Dasha is hugging me and is not letting go for as long as we are there. She and her brother immediately attract attention from among all the others. She, because of her constant laughter and child-like directness. He–because of his ever-sad gaze. We never saw him smile. Dasha has really grown up of late.
But, worst of all, I still remember her mother.
She never once came to visit her kids…
Dasha knows that I saw her mom, because she’s grasping at me as if at a straw, at the only link to her most important relative.