A phone call right before the New Year: “Your mom is in a coma”.
No, that’s not right.
Once upon a time, there were two girls–Marina and Alyona. Listen to their story.
They spent practically the whole war by themselves. I wrote about them many times. They never knew where their fathers were (each had a different one), and the story with their mother is even more interesting. When the war started, Marina, the older and shorter of the two, left for Russia with a boyfriend, while the younger stayed with her mother. Heavy bombing stopped, so Marina returned to the now established LPR and found nobody home. Mother lived in some dump with some dude, with Alyonka looking on. Marina immediately took her sister from the mother. The two started living together.
So, Alyonka grew, went to school. While Marinka took on all kinds of jobs–sales clerk, seller, bookkeeper, loader, etc. Working several shifts while herself so thin as to be almost translucent. If you remember, she once broke her leg, and got no compensation for it. WE offered her help with her studies, there was someone willing to pay for it. But Marina was so afraid for her sister and so afraid to put her hopes in anyone that she refused.
The house is half-empty. Either the mother took everything away, or some woman who lived there for some time in ’14 did. Moreover, the apartment accumulated a pile of debts which the mother wasn’t even trying to pay off. We then collected money to cover the utilities debts so that electricity and water wasn’t cut off.
We managed, thank you for that.
The girls lived for all these years on their own–with a turtle and a hamster. Mom never remembered them. They waved their arms when asked about her: “don’t wanna know her”. We’ve tried to help them all these years, with the bills, food, clothing, money.
I remember how once we came to visit them without warning, bringing presents, and they were so frightened that they hid in a corner and were afraid to move. They thought one of the mother’s former roommates showed up.
And then the New Year’s phone call.
“Your mom is in a coma”. It was a stroke. Two weeks in a hospital. Nobody needs her, except the sisters.
Marina borrowed money from neighbors for treatment. They took the woman home.
There was a woman in Lugansk. And she had two kids. “Was” not in the sense she’s no longer among the living, it’s just that she’s not in Lugansk anymore. “Had” not in the sense they are no more. They are not with her anymore.
That Woman, I don’t know how to call her, left LPR at one point. And left the kids. Alone. “To find love”–it seems that’s the phrasing we heard from social workers who told us about the kids. “They’re adults, they can take care of themselves, but I need to get my life on track”. Well, they are not adults. Valera is only 16, the younger is 10. He was taken to an orphanage. The older one lives alone, since he’s an “adult”. He went to study computer systems.
It’s still summer, but the fall will be upon us soon, which means not only yellow leaves but also school. Which in turn means notebooks, pens, backpacks, and all kids of other stuff kids need. And yes, kids in LPR/DPR also go to school, attend after-school clubs, and they need all that very badly. Maybe even more than our kids.
All of that costs a lot. For many Donbass people, late August and the fall are a difficult time of the year. Because the average monthly salary is 5,000 rubles. Sometimes all these school supplies are an unaffordable luxury. It’s a luxury to buy pen holders and book sleeves…
Have you calculated how much it costs to prepare one school child for September 1?
These children are not simply children. They are children of war. They live in a different reality and for many of them colorful markers, pretty erasers are a source of joy so great that it’s hard to believe in our reality with prosciutto and i-Phones.
So Lena and Zhenya carried out “Operation Y” [a reference to a famous Soviet-era film] to collect school supplies for the people we care for. But unfortunately we were not able to collect enough for all. Especially for those families for whom we are making separate collections and the particularly needy ones–you know them all well.
We really want to help both. Last year we and you were able to collect many school kids for children whose parents are on the registry at the Lugansk Aid Center. These are foster kids, families with many children, single moms, disabled kids.
We want to help as many kids as possible!!!
So I’m calling on you to join in this effort!))) Come on board!
If you do, please label your contributions “school”.
And you must see the photo report on what we’ve bought so far.
Just look at how improbably happy they are!!!
Lena and her parents and kids went shopping and picked out everything. So the boys and girls got to pick the color of their notebooks, backpacks, pencils, paper, everything they needed.
Lenochka, you and Zhenya are totally awesome!!! It’s so good to have you with us! Thank you!
This is Vika and Alyona. It’s so unexpected to see them together on the same photo, after all they’ve never seen one another.
Not too long ago, someone put one of my posts on Yandex-Zen and the number of my blog’s views went straight up.
I haven’t seen that since 2014, and that’s very good. And I would like to tell new readers that, in spite of my numerous selfies and Crimea photos, our aid to the people of Donbass is ongoing. We continue to help nearly every day. And thanks to those who participate in it. This is a complex, multi-stage process, linked by many invisible threads.
I don’t know how often I should write about Donbass. I could write reports every day, or once a week. Now I write several times a week, so as not to overload you. And to be honest, it’s hard for me to write more often, I get lost in the thicket of phrases. What’s more, I have written about it so many times that it’s difficult for me to find a new way to tell it, and I feel like a bore.
But, overall, thank you for being with me.
This report-post is about people under our constant care. There have been so many posts about them that I don’t want to become a parrot repeating the same over and over again. Please read about them, there are tags at the bottom of the post pertaining to them. This is assistance to people who find it hard to survive in wartime conditions.
This is our Seryozha. Seryozha, Seryozha, Seryozha…Not a simple story to tell. He now lives in a retirement home in Lugansk. Without a leg, a home, a family, but with polyarthritis…
I wrote a large, pathos-laden speech before this report but then erased it. Such words are probably unnecessary here.
Bitterness, sadness, sense of injury–these feelings must be removed from posts. It seems that, over the last three and a half years, we got tired of it. And if our earlier stories were full of tragedy, they’ve since become a chronicle. A chronicle of war, of aid, of human fates. I’d like to change a lot in the surrounding us world, but all I can do is talk about tiny fragments of human lives.
These are our “workdays” which are difficult to tell in a novel way every time.
Because they’ve become a “routine”, which fills our days.
For example, the story of Marina and Alyona, two girls who live without their parents.
The older one works and feeds and younger who is a student. They’ve never seen their fathers, the mother is unfit and even the girls say “it’s better she never comes back.”
So here I’m looking at a photo with the older Marine and the aid we brought, and see a very thin girl. Tiny, fragile, and a stuff elephant with a raised trunk. For some reason I wanted to write about the pink elephant. Small, like Marine herself, on a sofa in an apartment where there’s almost no furniture. With a rug as backdrop. The whole internet makes fun of things like that. But the rug keeps the heat in…And decorates the utterly empty apartment.
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.
It was dark when we arrived without warning to visit Alyona and Marina.
A dark stairwell, a poorly lit street. Light on the first floor. We knock but nobody opens the door. We knock on the window–silence.
We stand in the stairwell and don’t know what to do. We left their phone numbers at home.
Lena says incredulously: “The light is on–they should be home. Where else would they be? The little one is back from school, Marina is also back from work. They never go anywhere.”
Ten minutes later a tiny thin lady shows up and immediately goes on the attack: “Do you have business here?”
A few days prior to September 1 were got thinking many people on the Donbass can’t afford to buy their kids anything for school. They simply have no money. Then I wrote a post and you know what? You and I turned out to be quite awesome.
We got in touch with the Lugansk Aid Center and coordinated the list of necessities. Thanks to the money you sent, we managed to prepare 22 kids for school. It’s not just pens, pencils, supplies, but even pen holders and backpacks.
Zhenya described the distribution thusly: “To be perfectly serious, several moms were crying since they had no idea how to buy these things, and the kids must go to school…”
Tanya recently had a surgery in Lugansk. Mastectomy.
Analyses are in.
Bad news. Metastases, fourth phase…
Chemo had begun. The second round will be in the fall. Until then, she was released home. She has a son whom she’s raising alone…
The guys have been visiting Tanya nearly every day at the hospital to support her and bring her some treats.
They say that Tanya so far doesn’t feel anything. She looks better, feels better.
That’s where things stand.
Remember these two sisters from Lugansk?
We visited them in December.
Marina is the de-facto mother of her sister. Works as a cashier in a supermarket, supporting them both. She’s 21, and she’s responsible for her 13 year old sister while their mother lives somewhere else with someone else.
It’s not possible to deprive the mother of parental rights so that she wouldn’t keep drawing the child benefit–civil courts don’t operate in LPR. Therefore only the mother can keep getting the money, even though she rarely remembers they exist.
–And she shouldn’t remember we exist.
So says the older one.