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)))
This is Natasha and her grandmother. They live alone because on August 3 of the bloody 2014 their garden was hit by a shell. The house survived though the blast shattered all the windows, but a single piece of shrapnel flew in. Just a single piece of shrapnel. That was enough to kill Natasha’s mom right in front of her. The shrapnel pierced her head.
Natasha did not say anything for a week, and it was a miracle she resumed talking later. She stuttered for a year. Her grandma really aged in that instant. She’s only 70, and at the time, 3 years ago, she looked different.
In December there was a prisoner exchange between the Republics and Ukraine. Among them was Petya who’s been in captivity for about 2 years. He and his wife Ira and thee kids lived in the village of Zolotoye-4. Near Pervomaysk, but on the Ukrainian side. Petya joined the militia: “When they started to kill us from aircraft–we all knew who was doing it, saw the planes, and I couldn’t just sit at home.” Several of their neighbors perished right in front of them. Died on the spot.
Petya’s parents and sister left for Western Ukraine 8 years earlier. When the Donbass was bombed, before Petya joined the militia he called them. Called to hear the voices of relatives, hear words of support, share the shock of what he saw–it was impossible to accept and understand what just happened. Nobody could believe what was happening–aircraft, and bombs falling onto ordinary homes. His own mother told him: “It’s your own fault.” Then he called the sister, who answered: “What did mother tell you? She was right, don’t call us anymore.”
They’ve had no contact since. An ordinary story–there are hundreds of such relations, people who refuse to believe what the relatives from Donbass say, who don’t want to hear anything and who believe that “it’s their own fault.”
Dear God, how many times have I heard these words…How many times…
–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.
–It fell here. But didn’t break. But on the other side, the wall was full of holes. It was never as scary as then.
Valentina’s voice breaks, her eyes fill with tears. Her tale meanders–one moment she’s joking and waving her arms, the next her lips shake and tears pour in a stream. She speaks with such a strong Ukrainian accent I sometimes can’t follow.
She lives in Pervomaysk, LPR. She has diabetes and lip cancer. She’s also all alone.
We brought her aid and, before we even crossed the threshold, she ran across the house to show us the photos.
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.
I recently chatted with a friend, but she was so full of complaints about everything that I ran away from her.
Then I realized I find it hard to bear negative information. It seems to make the puddles more dirty and the sky greyer. But I understood that these aren’t the problem. I will also say that banality is nonsense. Let’s take your tiny salary and the price of chicken. It doesn’t mean one shouldn’t talk about it. It only means it’s small potatoes, and it should be talked about only to the extent it needs to. Without going over it every day.
As you know, we help cancer patients. The majority of them are in a hopeless situation.
But they are hanging on, grasping at every straw. They do the best they can. They are not discouraged, they try to fully live the time they’ve been left. They are happy with every day spent with children and relatives. There’s no-one to help them, they have nobody, and they are alone with their illness.
I’ve written this a hundred times and this must be the 101st repetition–value what you have.
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.”