Heroic Grannies

My blog is a paradox in that while 80% of my posts are about the Donbass, the most read posts are the remaining 20%. With the rarest of exceptions. As soon as I stop writing my thoughts and stories, the rating crashes (in the sense of number of views).
My life of late has not been very simple, so I’ve had little time to write the blog about myself. I promise to fix that and continue writing on the favorite themes of “Dunya once again broke/lost something, etc.”
But in spite of the fact the blog lost views, I want to give big thanks to all of those who continue helping the Donbass. In January I will have a many reports from New Year’s events, the first of which already took place. LPR people these days are veritable Stakhanovites, tirelessly delivering presents in one place after another. I will write about that, and post photos, later.
But the main thing is that in addition to presents, our friends continue to deliver aid.
Thanks to everyone who, in spite of the holidays, leave, remember that there are people who need help! This is priceless, and it’s a point of pride that we’ve been able to organize it. Thanks to our entire team which put together these complex logistics!
I’m glad to see that even with the greatest drop in readership (yes, alas, I’m always upset when this happens), the aid continues.
And that’s very cool!
The post is about our friends’ most recent visits to our grannies. Heroic grannies who raised grandchildren on their own. They are all in unbelievably difficult situations. Age, illness, sadness from losing own children, but in spite of all that they have boundless love for their grandkids and do everything for them. What is more, not all parents try as hard.
Thank you for your caring!
If you want to help these families, please label your contributions “grandmas”

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We will fight!

I was recently asked what I would say in The Hague, when giving testimony on war crimes. I didn’t know what to say.
Probably because we’ve seen so many stories…hundreds. For example, there’s this girl who has since grown up who watched her mother’s death. Shrapnel struck her head and she died instantly. The girl, the very young girl, saw it all with her own eyes. Or, in another case, the man whose wife and son were blown to pieces all over the block. There’s also the elderly woman who lost a leg and an arm, and her own brother who lives in Dnepropetrovsk told her over the phone she’s lying and that they are “separatists” and therefore it’s her own fault. There are also invisible stories, too many to count. Each time I write about these stories, people write in comments the war has nothing to do with them.

As far as I am concerned, the war has everything to do with them.
These are our cancer patients. Whom we look after. Naturally, nobody can say why the swelling began. It’s a whole universe of causes. Rich, beautiful, young, famous, all burn out and no amount of money can save them. And  they are not in the midst of any war. This is a serious illness with which humanity has not learned to fight. But we always encounter cases where someone needed to start treatment, but had to hide in cellars because of shells. Or had to go to a doctor, but couldn’t because of shells. And when it’s not about the shells, it’s about struggling to survive. Health care system barely copes, in spite of all the aid the Republics are getting. There’s always something lacking. Hospitals are full, there are long waiting lists. And no, this is not just stress. People have been living there for six years, in isolation, with tiny salaries. Awaiting the big world’s decision. Simple, ordinary people who don’t know what tomorrow will bring. They don’t know how to live. But life goes on, time flies and, alas, nothing changes. All of these Normandy Fours, Fives, Dozens…they have no impact on ordinary lives. Shelling continues, people struggle to survive, the world does not recognize. There is no work, salaries and benefits are minimal, but the prices are like everywhere else…

So, as you might imagine, this post will be about one of our cancer “girls”. About Viktoria. My most recent post about her was during the summer.



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From Novosvetlovka

I remember Raisa Yakovlevna from back in 2015, when we visited her at home in Novosvetlovka.
Zhenya brought her aid from other volunteers. I was then doing a report on the village. Tens of destroyed houses, burned out tanks and APCs on every street. Pillboxes at every turn, and shrapnel damage to everything. It was very cold, and while snow was trying to cover the shattered houses, the bare trees laid everything open to the bones. The village was absolutely stripped.
I remember the empty house and the crying woman who told us what happened. I stood in the open door, waiting until Zhenya talked to her. We were getting ready to leave when she started to ask us to stay and have tea with her. “You’ve been on the road, you must be tired.” It’s true we were tired but we also had to go. She had almost nothing but she could just let us go. That’s how people there, on the Donbass, are. After that we kept running into her. Whenever we brought her aid, we had to fight off her “presents”–a packet of nuts, a can of pickled tomatoes. Always wanted to feed us.
I remember well what she told us. We haven’t seen each other since. Many volunteers from various institutions were helping her. I never saw a photo of her.

A house on Raisa Yakovlevna’s street.

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Why did they stay?

One angry lady showed up in the comments section last night. She wrote two harsh comments stating that she and her three kids left the war zone, lives in Russia, is really struggling, but at least her kids don’t know what war is. The post concerned collecting aid for New Year festivities. The woman wrote that nobody brings her presents, which means those who stayed there did so because it’s beneficial to them, and that makes her very angry. They are there to collect aid.
I’ll say this–yes, we have seen people like that in ’14. Alas, they did exist. I remember one woman in Pervomaysk who did not want to leave the bomb shelter even though heavy shelling stopped a long time ago. She did not want to leave because journalists and volunteers were showing up by the hundreds. They brought food, clothing, medications. Just sit and take. But listen–it’s been five years since that time. Yes, sometimes humanitarian aid does arrive, but that’s not enough to live on. Nobody’s been living in bomb shelters for a long time, the war has moved into a new phase. No, that phase is no better or worse, it’s just different. Unruly, protracted.
The aid from our convoys is meant mainly for hospitals, kindergartens, retirement homes, dormitories, other institutions. This is real aid. They bring equipment, special preparations, insulin, and much else needed for people to live. But to say that people find it convenient to stay in the warzone is just funny. Salaries, pensions, benefits in the Republics are tiny. Life there is very difficult. It’s hard to find work, pay is low. And there’s the war. Leaving now is not like leaving in ’14 when there were refugee processing centers and many programs assisting in restarting one’s life. Now it’s a multi-layered hell where the problem is not only the institutions but even the question of where to turn to. Even with one kid it’s a problem, and what do you do when you have three? And what about single moms, elderly, disabled, bedridden? What are they to do?
The lady was very angry, but her pain and the difficulty of her situation were plainly felt. She removed her comments after some time. But I can say that I constantly encounter such opinions concerning those who remained among those who have left, and also among Russians. Very many condemn those who live there. And I always answer the same–you have no idea what you would have done yourselves in that situation.
My friend from Lugansk did not leave because her parents absolutely refused to leave their land and she couldn’t leave them. Everyone has their own pain and own reasons. It’s seemingly obvious, but apparently, not entirely since people are constantly making similar comments.
That’s how tit is.
Friends, thanks to all who continue to help our team in helping people of the Donbass. In this post there is a report on medications for two people who are really struggling.
Did they have an opportunity to leave? Why did they stay? I don’t think it’s for us or that lady to judge. But I know that anyone can find themselves in a tough spot. Anyone at all.
And I’m glad we can help them somehow.

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After the Surgery

Since the summer, we’ve been helping Elena Ivanovna from Lugansk, which found herself in a really tough spot. He injured her hip after the war began, she had an improperly inserted pin into her leg (I published the x-ray earlier). It all fused improperly, too. A few years later she had a serious arm injury. This made it impossible for her to walk on crutches. She was stuck at home, isolated. Her husband died of cancer at the same time.
The woman lives with her 15-year-old son. No relatives. I can’t imagine what would have become of her it we didn’t help her. She couldn’t even get a decent diagnosis. Doctors passed her around, said various things at different times. They talked of prosthetics for which she had no hope. And only in late September did we learn that in order to have a prosthesis the pin had to be taken out. A new joint could be installed six months after that.
Elena has lived in Lugansk with a Russian passport for over 20 years, having a residence permit. That’s why she couldn’t get normal health care. LPR passport was difficult for Elena to get. And even though everyone was very understanding of her disability, it is Lena who had to take Elena Ivanovna to all the offices in her wheelchair. She kicked ind doors, pleaded, talked to the long lines of the waiting. She was able to get the passport very quickly. Danya, her son, would have hardly been able to tackle such problems.
We managed to set her up with good doctors for the surgery. It took place in late October.
How’s she doing now?

Since the last post, our friends have visited her six times at the hospital. Constantly on the phone.
I want to say this one more time–she has nobody to help her but us. Danya is at school, he can’t help his mom on his own. He has his own struggles. It’s a long trip for him, too, they live in upper Kambrod, while the hospital is in Yubileynoye (the outskirts of Lugansk). 90 minutes with transfers. He spent the first week after the surgery at the hospital, the school had to be notified of his absence.
Zhenya writes:
“The surgery went very well. Elena Ivanovna is feeling better. Her mood is as good as ever. But a week later a fever–an inflammation of some sort…Some of the stitches were removed. In some places there were black blood pools. Pain…

But everything is still ahead, there’s already hope that she’ll recover fully.
Thanks to all who are helping in our assistance effort!
If you want to join in, please label your contributions “Elena”.

Lena and Zhenya also told us about Elena’s hospital room. I can’t help but quote them: “A room for 6. Each with their own story. Own pain and tragedy. A woman in the next bed was brought from Molodogvardeysk, with orders to “amputate the leg”. A young doctor looked, said, “we’ll fight for the leg”. Opened it up, cleaned, cut something out. The leg was saved, no function lost. Good, right? The next neighbor was already discharged, she came from Schastye (under Ukraine) under the “Helping Our Countrymen” program. She was put back on her feet in a month, for free. She spent 4 months in Schastye, in hospital, with no result. This is good, too. Another woman from Stakhanov, sold her apartment that used to belong to her parents. In order to pay for a hip joint implant. It was installed, but then there was rejection, infection, another surgery to remove the implant. More infection, then a stroke, died on Wednesday. She screamed a lot…Two people had died in that room while Elena Ivanovna was being treated. A grandmother, very kind, nice, and patient, died on the same day. This is their daily life…There are also many young militiamen being treated for shrapnel wounds. War quietly continues. They are trying not to advertise it. “Every so often they bring in young, wounded boys”. This was said by a doctor with an angry gaze…”



If you want to help the people of the Donbass, please write me in person through LiveJournal, facebook,  V Kontakte, or email: littlehirosima@gmail.com. Paypal address: littlehirosima@gmail.com.

Please label contributions for this family “Elena”.

The pin was removed!

Friends, we finally have good news about Elena Ivanovna!
Do you remember the woman from Lugansk with a major leg problem?
In ’15 she suffered a fracture of the hip joint after which the local doctors inserted a pin and everything fused together improperly. Ever since then she’s had difficulty walking, and only with crutches. Then she broke her arm and could not use crutches. Her husband died of cancer in the meantime. There are problems with the arm, too. We started to help Elena during the summer. She and her young son are completely alone.
The problem lay in that she could not get a free joint in LPR since she is a Russian citizen even though she’s lived there since the ’90s and had a residence permit. She was not able in her condition to leave for Russia and get free treatment there.
But now we have terrific news!

Our friends have done the impossible!
She got an LPR passport in the shortest time possible! Thanks to, specifically, Lena. She simply took Elena Ivanovna in her wheelchair and went to one institution after another. And you know what–people saw her condition and went out of their way to help. How did it happen? Nobody can believe it. Everything was done literally in a week.
Naturally, Lena’s titanic stubbornness were key. One must have enormous internal reserves to do that. Anyone who’s dealt with such institutions knows. My hat’s off to her.
As soon as she got her passport she was operated on. Zhenya consulted with some outstanding doctors.
But it’s not the final joint replacement surgery.
On a tip from Tanya Anikina and a doctor she knew in Moscow who saw the x-rays, we learned that before new joint is installed the pin installed by the “bone-breakers” which basically crippled her must be removed. The operation took place in October ’15. Took 3 hours. The doctors said it was “bloody”.

 


This post contains photos from before and after the surgery. We bought all the medications and everything necessary for the surgery. Lena came to the hospital almost immediate after it was over.
Zhenya: “Elena Ivanovna was practically born anew. She was very worried, and now she’s not the pain-ridden fearful woman, but instead has a merry fire in her eyes. ‘I still can’t believe it was all done in a week”‘. We were dumbfounded as well. We intensified our efforts and it all somehow came together. Genuine miracles. Such a mad pace, though. You go home, and your head is still buzzing”.

So those are the news. Rather good ones at that!
Now we have to wait 6 months until everything sets. We hope to resolve the joint problem during this time.
Elena Ivanovna practically has wings, she’s trying to move on her own now.
But at night she has terrible pains. Hospitals don’t have morphine, they use whatever they have. Which is not enough.

Big thanks to Zhenya and Lena. It was heroic on their part, obtain the passport and the operation so quickly!
Thanks to Tanya who helped with the information, and thanks to all those to donated money! Thank you all for your participation.
But everything is still ahead of us. The start has been made, though, which is very important.
I am happy beyond measure to be able to write such “news”. Because all of it was in a suspended state for a long time, because nobody wanted to tackle such a hard case.
In hoc signo vinces!

If you want to contribute to Elena Ivanovna’s recovery, please label your contributions “Elena”.

If you want to help the people of the Donbass, please write me in person through LiveJournal, facebookV Kontakte, or email: littlehirosima@gmail.com. Paypal address: littlehirosima@gmail.com.

Please label contributions for this family “Elena”.

Sixty-eighth

 

There are 68 Vika-tagged posts on my blog. I wrote about the girl named Vika almost seventy times. I reminded everyone every time that the young beauty lives in Lugansk. That she has diabetes. The she lost her sight. Suffered from TB. Lost a brother. Had a kidney fail. And it seems it’s becoming more difficult for me to write about this girl.
Not because I have been repeating this 68 times. But because Vika herself reads these posts.
Vika has a computer for the blind which we and you managed to organize for her. Before, these posts were read for her by her mother. Not only posts about them–they read nearly everything I write. But before the mother could skip certain parts. Now Vika can read it all herself. She often writes replies, in person, sending smileys and always trying to make me smile and think everything is fine.
And it is difficult for me to remind her of the situation in which she found herself.
I would much prefer to write joyful stories, but when it comes to Vika these stories are always different. It’s a difficult situation. Sveta and Vika would really struggle without your help. So much so that I don’t even know how retell the same story every time.
To read all the posts about Vika, click on the “Vika” tag at the bottom of this post.
This time, I want to write about Sergey from Belgorod. Every six months, like clockwork, he sends “talking” test strips for a special glucose-meter which he bought several years ago specially for Vika.

Curtains and Stools

May I brag? It’s OK, right?
So, we received photos from the Lugansk Rehabilitation Center showing the new curtains and stools which they made thanks to you, friends!
Zhenya calls the Center an “orphanage”, but that’s not quite right. It’s a place where children from broken homes end up and leave only after 11 months of work with psychologists and pedagogues, going to orphanages afterwards. Or return to their own families. Many children from the families we care after ended up here, when they were seriously ill. When there is nobody else to taken in the children, and the mothers are, for example, in a cancer ward or otherwise cannot take care of themselves, the children end up in such “temporary” establishments. They have full room and board there.
By the way, as you recall, we collected money during the summer to fix up the car the Center has. We collected more than was needed. That’s what the rest was spent on. I wrote about it earlier, but the photos were of the just-delivered stools and fabrics.

And now Anna Viktorovna, the director, sent us photos of just sewn curtains. She was so happy, you’d think she hung them at her own home. “Look it’s thanks to you!” One must say the Center is lucky to have her. She is truly amazing. For her, all these children are like family. It is good that there are people so dedicated to this work.
So once again, thank you friends!)))
We are glad to continue assisting the Center.

А сейчас Анна Викторовна, руководитель, сбросила нам фотографии уже сшитых штор. Она так радовалась, словно дома у себя их повесила. “Посмотрите, спасибо вам!”. Вообще, надо сказать, что Центру очень повезло с ней. Она совершенно замечательная женщина. Для нее все эти дети, как родные. И это здорово, что есть такие преданные своему делу люди.
В общем, друзья, спасибо вам!))))
А мы с удовольствием продолжаем помогать Центру.

If you want to join the aid effort for the people of the Donbass, please write me in person through LiveJournal, facebookV Kontakte, or email: littlehirosima@gmail.com. Paypal address: littlehirosima@gmail.com.

Please label contributions intended for this Center or orphanages “orphanage”.

“There are dying people there”

There is a hospice near my home in Moscow. A beautiful one, from red brick, with unusual plants, a pretty guardhouse and expensive cars parking next to it. It’s the First Hospice, located in a nice part of Moscow. As I was walking by, with my face in my phone, a car that I did not notice drove onto the sidewalk. That’s how I accidentally met the woman who was driving. I don’t remember the dialogue, but I do recall well her cry –“Do you know what kind of building this is? It’s a hospice! Do you know what that is! There are dying people there!”. As a matter of fact she was wrong because I was on the sidewalk and she was supposed to let me through, but when I heard her raised voice I was embarrassed. When I looked at the car, the iron gates, my heart suddenly shuddered.
I walked past these walls a thousand times, but now I was suddenly paralyzed.
Do I know what building this is? Do I know what a hospice is?
Oh, woman-stranger, I know what a hospice. Do I ever.
Alas.
In the hospice I visited for the first time there were no diapers, no cleaning solutions. The director asked me whether we could bring reactants…During the bombardments, without water or electricity, nurses and orderlies washed sheets outside and boiled everything in huge vats on open fires. There were people in corridors who escaped the shells because that building was close. This was the Gorlovka hospice.
And then I started to think about other hospices. Hospices over there.
For example, the Kalinovo one where there’s still fighting. At the entrance there was a shell casing serving as an ashtray. A day before our visit a shell exploded 5 meters from the building, breaking kitchen windows.

I’m often asked why I don’t do aid in Russia. Many regions, let’s just say,  are in a difficult situation. Supplies, repairs, furniture. I realize that many hospices are not as comfortable like the one past which I often walk. I’ll say this–I will never forget how the director looked at me with fatigue and joked that since mortar bombs exploded in his garden, he won’t have to dig it up. I won’t forget how he asked us for “more underwear”. Cheap underwear!
Most of the hospice workers in ’14 and ’15 worked for free and these back salaries were never paid to them. They went out under the shells, washed the dying when there was no electricity, took the bedridden out into the corridors so that they would not be hurt by flying glass.
I’m more needed there. On the Donbass. Because…it’s war. Is there anything worse? I don’t know what other explanations are necessary.
Friends, if you want to help us in our assistance to hospices, please label your contributions “hospice”.
This is truly vital assistance!
This time my friend, a young beautiful woman who does not live in Russia, sent money and asked that they be used to help hospices.
Thank you, sister! No other words to describe it.


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“Living Plasma”

These red-headed kids became “ours” in recent days. Indeed–“ours”. We’re helping them. And I don’t think we know a family that provokes such positive emotions. Every time when Zhenya sends photos of these incredible kids, I smile from ear to ear. Just look–it’s a miracle!
They live with their grandmother. Mother’s heart failed. Where’s the father? He might as well not exist. He chased out the pregnant with with the young daughter. Chased her out to Lugansk where Sasha, the younger one, was born. They used to live in Crimea. The mother is originally from Lugansk. She had nowhere else to go so she went home. What happened, why–we’ll never know. I also don’t think it’s worth digging. The fact remains–the grandmother is raising the two kids. And she is struggling.
To read more about them, click on the “redheads” tag at the bottom of this post.