Don’t forget about this!

I really don’t want my reports from the Donbass to be only about sad things. Or, rather, I’d prefer that, when you saw my posts in your feed or on your wall, your heart did not shrink with sadness and you did not think that it’s another awful story about how someone died, is dying, or has lost everything. Yes, there are many such stories. War is a tragedy, broken lives, pain, and our shame.
But in reality, the history of the war in these posts is not only a story of suffering, unlucky people. It’s also stories about heroes, about strong people. About closely knit families, about people with unbelievable willpower and–most importantly–this blog’s story is the story of mutual assistance. Of the great cycle of goodness. And I want you to know that hundreds of people are behind our goodness. Various people. And all of them have enormous hearts.
Please remember this when you read my stories and reports.
Here, for example, is Anya from Moscow. She is in a very difficult situation–her daughter is disabled. I first encountered her in my life when I read about Vika whom we then took to Moscow for eye treatment. It turned out she has TB. She then lost her boyfriend, her grandmother died, and she had already lost her brother before that. Vika was greatly depressed and I didn’t know how to improve her mood. She needed strength and hope.

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Maybe I’ll tell you about Seryozha?

Stories Seryozha are simply stories about a distant uncle. Perhaps that’s why I’ve written fewer and fewer stories about him. Some stories are not suitable for public consumption, others have been written so many times it’s becoming awkward. Seryozha Kutsenko probably got the biggest chapter in my “People Live Here” book.
So, how’s Seryozha?
Seryozha is sad and is very bored in the retirement home. Even though one can’t call it an ordinary retirement home.
Beautiful trails, benches, bridges, all fixed up, great food, but…

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Bellflowers

In spite of our frequent trips to the war zone, we are not in contact with any fighters. We usually work with “civilians”, administration services, social services, etc. Although, if LPR becomes Ukraine and the reunification our liberals want takes place, all of these civilian workers will be lumped together with the militiamen and charged with “separatism” and “treason.” Whether you just helped the elderly or sat in the trenches, you aided terrorists.
But we do have friends among the militia. I briefly mentioned one of them, a fellow student from MGU, wounded near Debaltsevo.
There is also Kolya. We met in Chernukhino in the spring of ’15. Zhenya invited Kolya to be our escort. I wanted to write about him then, but it didn’t happen.

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My accidents

My father always said one should write right away. When the impressions are fresh, when it still hurts, and when it’s still with you.
That’s the truth.
There is much that I haven’t written down. Even for myself, even when I had the strength.
For example, I did not write about accidents.
It would seem they are trivial. But I didn’t write because of my mother. We carefully tried to conceal from her what happened. There were hints, there were euphemisms, but never a direct description.

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Donbass Humanitarian Aid, Part 19

Here is the report on the trip to the Donbass in December of 2017 and everything we’ve done since then until mid-March.
I wanted to write this was one of the hardest trips, but then I read earlier reports and realized they are all like that. Though the first visits were dangerous in the direct meaning of the word, since we saw rocket fire and were practically making deliveries under fire as in the besieged Pervomaysk. Just being in LPR was dangerous. Now, of course, it’s different, though things tend to get…complicated. But now we face other problems. Mostly psychological in nature.
We are ordinary people, and our entire team consists of people who were never psychologists or physicians or even volunteers. and sometimes it’s hard to come to grips with the reality of what’s happening. Like human villainy and treachery. Many other things. It’s hard to accept things you can’t change.

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Friedman’s Metric

This is a story about a very unusual person.
I should probably start by saying that on August 4, 2014, Lev went to get water and in the process lost a leg to yet another round of shelling of Pervomaysk. But that’s how I start nearly every story about someone wounded or injured. So perhaps instead I should start by saying that he still lives with his Soviet passport, and as a matter of principle refused to exchange it for Ukrainian documents because he considers himself a Soviet man. But even that’s not as important, even though it made it hard for him to obtain pension and benefits.
–Lev, tell me, what kind of aid do you need?
–I’d like books about theoretical physics. I would really like to read about Friedman’s metric.
–???
–He was pursuing a mathematical description of the Universe.
That’s Lev in a nutshell. We’ve known him for a year, and only a year later I felt ready to write about him. Even though there hasn’t been a visit during which we wouldn’t be his guests in Pervomaysk.

This photo was taken in autumn ’17. We visited Lev and found him hopping on one leg next to his house, collecting firewood. He stokes a stove  which has covered the whole kitchen with soot. There is a pleasant smell of smoke and firewood all over the house. You know, it’s such a refined smell, when firewood and not coal or gas is used. He lives alone, has no relatives. There was a brother, but far, far away. It seems he died, and his relatives are in Ukraine somewhere. No wife or children.
He doesn’t have a job, and what kind of a job could he, a one-legged retiree, find in wartime Pervomaysk?
He only recently managed to get his pension awarded, but when we first met him he still wasn’t receiving it. He lived thanks to neighbors’ help.
The neighbors love him even though they seem to view him a village idiot.
–Our Lyova doesn’t drink! He’s awesome, he hops on one leg!!!
And Lyova, indeed, is like a rabbit on crutches. It’s hard to believe he’s been retired for years.

After we got acquainted a year ago, I told Zhenya back in Lugansk about him for two hours straight. Zhenya didn’t go with us. I told him that there’s this guy there. Single, very strange, very smart. Not of this world, that’s for sure.
The whole house was full of books, no electricity, firewood only. There is a lamp with wires going to the neighbors’, for which we are very grateful.
Sometime ago he graduated from the Dolgoprudy MFTI. Which is one of the best.
Lyova lost his leg to Ukrainian shells. He didn’t get a Ukrainian passport because he refused to recognize that state. But after getting this kind of treatment from them, he smiles and talks about physics.

Zhenya, having heard my extolling him, made a pragmatic proposal:
–Say, let’s put him in our retirement home, with Seryozha Kutsenko!
Kutsenko also has no leg but is not as independent, even though he’s younger than Lev. Seryozha has polyarthritis and joint problems. And it’s impossible to imagine Lev in a home. He even danced for us somehow on his one leg, after throwing the crutches off to the side. So this was my only reply to Zhenya:
–It would kill him.
Lev hops on crutches from yard to yard, collects firewood in his backpack, and thus heats his home. Carries water in bottles, drinks tea, and reads books. And spends all his time thinking about how the Universe is organized.
We talk to him about food, electricity, and debts, and he doesn’t understand us. He talks about math and cosmology. About the purpose of life, the purpose of the Universe.
–I could use more books…

This photo was made during the summer. Our Lev is an athlete!!!

There’s war all around, people struggle to survive, and in the middle of that, there is the odd Lev with a Soviet passport in besieged Pervomaysk. Who had a leg torn off, and who lives in his book- and physics-filled life and hops like a paraolympian in a light quilted jacket in spite of the frost.
And I also think all the time about how the Universe is organized.
How good it is there are people in it like Lev.

Dear friends, we weren’t able to find Friedman’s metric. We found several articles, printed them, and will soon bring them to Lev.
But if you have anything about the question of mathematical description of the Universe or something new in theoretical physics, we’d be happy to bring it along.
Our humanitarian aid. Thanks to all who have pitched in!

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.

Writer

When people call me a philanthropist, I get angry.
I also don’t like terms “humanitarian worker” and “volunteer”.
These worlds are absolutely alien to me, even though by and large they do refer to me.
But today I was able to figure out what makes me angry.
I wanted to become a writer during the last 10 years of my life. My father wrote, grandmother wrote, and I never planned it or saw myself in it.
My school compositions are horrible, to say the least. I wrote poorly and my writing is still bereft of talent. My phrases are awkward, and my texts full of repetition and endless inversions. When I reread my posts after a while, I want to destroy or rewrite them. But I give up and write something new.

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Ira had left us

No miracle happened.
Always with a beaming smile, head raised high, and a guitar in her hands–Ira was a real fighter.
She fought cancer for several years. It was discovered during her pregnancy–she gave birth to a daughter in 2015, and was immediately sent to the cancer ward.
The pregnancy gestated for much of 2014. You know what that year was like in Lugansk–war in its most awful form.
Then it was a life of endless struggle–chemo, medications, metastases, hospice. Over and over again.
It’s a miracle she survived the last 18 months.
We showed her medical history to Moscow physicians in the hope that in Russia she could get help, but they said there was no hope for recovery, and she had weeks left to live. But Iran kept on living, and fully participating in her family’s life.

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Elisey and Timur

This is Elisey. He has an 11-year-old brother, Timur.
Both live with their grandmother in Lugansk. Their mother ran off in ’14, when the war began. Disappeared and nobody knows where she is. Disappeared, and the boys live with the elderly Lyubov Mikhailovna who can’t even get any benefit payments for them. Their house is on the front lines. So far by miracle it wasn’t hit, though all the windows were broken, but their neighbors were not so lucky. All the horrors of war unfolded right before the eyes of children who were abandoned by their own mother. Elisey was tiny, and it’s hard to imagine how the retired grandmother coped.
LPR civil courts are still not operating, so she can’t obtain custody over the kids. They live off her pension which she supplements with her knittings, “but there are almost no buyers.”

Timur gets all the top grades, and also attends a music school.
He used to study English and drawing. But he stopped–the family has no money for transportation there.

Lyubov Mikhailovna is disabled herself. Type B diabetes. Hypertension going back years.
The family is in a difficult situation. The kids have to eat, they have high utility debts. One doesn’t want to moralize about the mother, though it’s hard not to.
I usually mention disappearing fathers. But there are also many mothers who abandoned own kids, left them with grandparents. And have forgotten them. Live somewhere far away and think everything is fine, the kids are with the grandmother, after all. That the grandmother may be disabled, elderly, that the kids have problems–that doesn’t cross their mind.
To be honest, I’ve seen many such stories even in Moscow. Which has many abandoned kids who don’t even think about their parents…One can always find a justification, it’s not hard to delude oneself.
Because it’s not about the war, right?
But at the same time it is.
The mother would have ran off regardless of the bombings. If the mother was not afraid to leave the kids under the threat of artillery shells, she’s totally indifferent to them. But the situation in the family would have been different if it weren’t for the war. The grandmother would have had the ability to deprive the mother of parental rights. She could have filed for and obtained benefits. But officially the mother is still the custodian. That’s what the documents say…
It’s all very, very complicated…
Yesterday I watched a program on NTO with lots of analysts which among other things talked about the Donbass conflict. They spoke general and largely correct things. But a lot of what they said sounded utterly wild, no matter how you approach it, and I approach it mainly from the perspective of treatment of human beings.
They are the spare change of big politics.
And yet there are tens of thousands of people there. All with their own different fates.
All of them have fallen under the steamroller of war.
How I wanted, at that moment, to drag all of these strange speakers, including the anchors, to the families whom we help.
How I wanted to take them to every last apartment and shattered house which we visit.
So that they would listen, they would listen.
Maybe then they’d talk about people, not about numbers and bio-units.

Our humanitarian aid. Thanks to all who participate!
If you want to help  Lyubov Mikhailovna’s family, please label contributions “Timur and Elisey”.

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 meant for this family “Timur and Elisey”.

Bringing “ours” greetings

Shortly everyone will be greeting women on the occasion of March 8, the International Women’s Day, and I’m still writing about we, on February 23, brought greetings to people under our are. But it’s better late then never, right?
You know, February 23, May 9, those are days when people OVER THERE are so happy that we can’t even imagine.
Over there–in LPR. Over there–in Novorossia. Over there–where there’s war. Where people have been living on top a volcano for 4 years already.
This day is unbelievably important to the Donbass people.
We brought greetings to the men under our care with what many internet users think foolish, ironic, but to them important little things. Not everyone can always afford to buy shaving cream or deodorant.

Seryozha…Seryozha was a tank commander and served near Moscow. Once upon a time he was Ukraine’s boxing champion.
Now he’s disabled–he’s lost a leg, he has polyarthritis. He lives in a retirement home. His house in Khryashchevatoye is gone, it was bombed out during the summer of ’14.
But you know Seryozha!!))) Our Seryozha!
If not, please click on the Kutsenko tag at the bottom of the article.

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