Larisa Ovcharenko has been disabled since childhood.
On February 7, 2015, at 3pm, a shell hit her house in Kalinovo, near Pervomaysk. Her sister was killed on the spot. Larisa was hit by shrapnel all over the body, and she lost the ability to walk–her knee-cap was shattered. She had a tube in her lungs for a long time. 3 months of hospitalization.
When we visited her, she was seriously embarrassed and tried to turn away. But let us take photos.
“There was no peace at night, we couldn’t fall asleep in the morning either, and it’s still noisy at 1pm. The peace was being shattered from the direction of Uglegorsk. Judging by last night’s events, we’ll have to put the kids to sleep in the corridors and bathrooms so that they won’t be injured by flying glass. Something exploded close enough to feel the vibration under the feet. It was far away, but very powerful.”
I read similar messages from my friends in Gorlovka, the main bleeding spot of the Donbass war, nearly every day. I feel shame in reading their posts, because they blend with the monotonous discussion of Savchenko’s visit to Moscow, Raikin, and whether Halloween ought to be celebrated. Pervomaysk is once again being hit by shells with increasing frequency, and not just around the outskirts.
Technical School 31 suffered a near miss recently, a couple of privately owned homes were damaged.
So I’m wondering–is the news blackout of the Donbass the result of deliberate action, or did people simply grow weary of it? Earlier I’d have given the latter answer. My readers told me a hundred times this is hard to read about. But Syria also should have exhausted itself as a story, and it hasn’t. People keep writing and discussing.
I really miss Lugansk and Pervomaysk.
This is a war without end. It became both the backdrop to and the sign of the era, in which various worlds coexist simultaneously, intersecting and then diverging. This is no longer merely an information or ideological war. This is also not a war in the conventional sense. But, dammit, it goes on.
We regularly receive appeals from the Lugansk Aid Center.
We run into cases about which one doesn’t even want to write.
These stories bring one down to earth and restore a sense of sobriety. A friend recently wrote that “yet for some people, the inability to buy a new iPhone is the height of suffering.”
So I am going to simply repost Zhenya’s story, please excuse me, but I don’t have the strength:
“There are stories where you don’t know where to begin. Wherever you turn, nothing but obstacles. This is one of them. There are six kids in the family. Tanya, born in 1995 (she’s a mom herself, her son is 3), Valera, 1996, Yura, 2000, Bogdan, 2007, Nastya, 2008, Sasha, 2012.
I remember like yesterday this closely-cropped woman with a big gap between her teeth.
We visited her together with Ruslan, our friend from Pervomaysk administration.
This is why she thought we were bringing the centralized humanitarian aid from the city, and was angry with me because she wanted to know when she’d receive construction materials.
And then she cried.
On August 9, 2014, the home of Natalya Petrovna Manchenko, was struck by four mortar bombs at exactly 6:30.
I haven’t cried like that in a year and a half.
It was a story that made everyone cry.
We drove up to the gate, and the old woman Lyuba came out and started to howl. She howled and cried, resting on her cane.
Her husband was blown to bits right before her eyes during August 2014. In front of that very same house where she was meeting us. He stood where we were standing now. Six shells came one after another.
And then her son called from Lvov and told her not to call anymore.
Do you know that strange feeling when everyone around you is discussing the national soccer team’s loss or some sick person being released from prison, and you don’t know what to say? Or another discussion concerning some killer or corrupt official? While you are like a stuck record. You become an irritating fly whom everyone had stopped reading a long time ago.
–Ah, is she the one who’s only talking about the old people on the Donbass?
Yes, the very same. I feel like a worn-out record and I don’t know how to write.
I see that the number of visits to posts about the Donbass is lower than ever.
Even photos of eggplants are more popular. I have detailed statistics…
Donbass has totally vanished from the news, blogs, internet, and every place else.
It’s not because people are tired and fed up–that happened over a year ago.
They simply got used to it. They got used to it and it became part of contemporary world. Like the hungry children in Africa, Afghanistan, or terrorism in the Middle East…
But here I go again…
For example, how should I write about this woman? She’s pleasant, giggly. As we were leaving, she was trying to feed us even though we just brought her aid…
Her name is Tatyana Vasilyevna, and she has a funny last name of Sladkaya [Sweet].
On the photo she’s shown in her Pervomaysk home which suffered two direct hits.
After the first one, on June 27, 2014, her shed vanished. Tatyana Vasilyevna barely made it to the bomb shelter. The main entrance was destroyed, all the windows shattered.
This is Lyubov Yakovlevna.
On August 2, 2014, she was left without a home. The whole stairwell of the house no.8 on the Kharkovskaya street utterly collapsed. All the way to the foundations.
At the time, she and her husband were in Irmino to hide from the shelling. But the neighbors described what they saw.
Five shells struck the house directly, and who knows how many near misses there were.
–Too many to count.
She’s 78 and is nearly death.
Her hearing aid broke, so she puts her hand to her ear and shakes her head to indicate she can’t hear.
There is a girl in Moscow named Nastya. There is another girl in Lugansk named Vika who got into a car accident during the war. She was indescribably beautiful, but lost everything in a flash.
Nastya had a terminally ill child. He was born with life-threatening illness. Could breathe only through a respirator and eat only through a tube. Nastya donated some of that food to Vika.
Each bottle represents a meal and costs 450 rubles. Nastya’s child, alas, no longer needs it (
Vika before the accident.
–I’m hoping for news from you, my darling. Answer me!
Olga Ivanovna Otroshchenko has been in the Pervomaysk hospital in LPR for a month.
We brought her a walker since she’s finding it hard to walk.
When we arrived her daughter was visiting.
It’s brother against brother. Children don’t speak to their parents, husbands divorce their wives over differences in opinion. Relatives drift apart. That’s the reality. We have heard such stories so often on the Donbass that they have become part of daily life. Something as obvious and self-evident as the fact that people walk and eat. And that’s the worst part of it. Even though for many it’s a “myth” and “exceptional cases.
But THIS is the norm.
Elena Viktorovna Evert and her daughter Angelina.
They lived in Nikolayevka until they lost their house