After every trip to Lugansk I get asked: “how are things over there?” Well, let me tell you–as usual. In other words, bad.
In actuality, things are going this way and that way, and life goes on. Roads are better, many damaged buildings were rebuilt or restored. Some shattered schools or kindergartens were reopened. New shops and cafes are opening. It’s hard to imagine, but there’s nowhere to park downtown. These are good signs. Signs of life. And it would be dishonest for me to write there’s hunger, it’s horrible. Not, it’s not sheer horror. You can find expensive sausage, even caviar, as well as expensive imported cars.
There are people who can afford these delicacies and drive such cars. Those who can will rise to the surface in any situation. Such people only need to be given a hand to jump up and take-off running again.
This is the Denisov family from Vergunka whom we have been helping for over a year.
Ira is a mother of two but is raising them alone. The husband left to earn money during the shelling and vanished.
They managed to get only as far as Lugansk when their village was shelled. Vergunka is actually not really a village but rather a region, or even an outskirt of Lugansk itself.
It is right on the border of where the UAF are.
You always hear gunfire there. And even though in Lugansk one can hear only the heavy artillery, that’s not the case in Vergunka.
They live right next to war.
Recently a drone was shot down there.
This is our Ira from Vergunka, near Lugansk.
Ira is raising two kids by herself. The husband ran off during the war. While the younger son Vovka was still in her belly.
He left Lugansk to earn money and vanished.
During the 2014 bombing, Vergunka was hit hard.
Irina’s house survived, though some of the walls and ceilings crumbled.
In LPR, there’s the Vergunka district, right on the front line.
For them, the sound of a cannonade is about what the sound of car engines is to us. Still.
When you talk to the locals about Minsk Agreements, they laugh.
Water is issued only twice a week, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, though at least it is available during the whole day.
–The Nazis destroyed the water system, they are, after all, right across the Donets. Just recently there was no water supply for two weeks, we had to carry it with our own hands from a neighbor’s well.
Last summer we met this young guy, Lyosha, at the retirement home. The lower part of his body is paralyzed and, since he lived alone, could not take care of himself. So already before the war he was admitted to the retirement home in Rovenki. We were shocked when we met him. He seemed like a space alien in this place. He was surrounded by the elderly with dementia, and the whole building exuded a whole odor of urine. I didn’t know until then that adult disabled older than 18 who can’t be independent and who have no relatives capable of helping them are sent to such institutions. Already then I decided to get Lyosha a computer. The readers donated three of them! Three! We brought one to Lyosha, another we gave to Vova whose mom died of cancer. The third, a Mac from our Zhenya Birman, waited and waited. We couldn’t find a suitable recipient. Until we met Ira’s family from Vergunka.
It’s impossible not to smile, right?