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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First help after three years of prison

“Greetings. I’m Dima ****, I want to thank you and your team for the provided help. It was the first I’ve seen in the three years of prison! Thank you!”
In mid-January I wrote a post about POWs who were exchanged by Ukraine and the Republics. Some of them turned out to have nothing at all to their name–their houses are on the other side, in Ukraine, which considers them “separatists” and which kept them in captivity. Many have homes right on the front lines, but just on the other side. They were settled in a dorm in Lugansk.
I was then approached by an internet-friend, who didn’t know whom else to turn to. Or rather, he approached everyone he could find to ask for help. We went to the dorm ourselves. Or, rather–I was still in Moscow, our Lugansk Zhenya went.
At that time, these former POWs were literally starving and had nothing, not even elementary personal hygiene items. They weren’t just military men, but also women and ordinary civilians. For example, those who helped organize the referendum in another part of the Lugansk Region, in Rubezhnoye, Severodonetsk, Lisichansk, and other towns. Which are now under Ukraine. We collected money for these people and brought them food. After we left, they were helped by the Red Cross, some social organizations, and even the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. They also started to receive help from local inhabitants and volunteers. I’m glad many people read my post, and help arrived not only through us.
 

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”.

Nobody But Us

It’s difficult to write a post based on someone else’s words. It’s important for me to look the person in the eye. But one sometimes has to write on the basis of what Zhenya or Lena wrote about people whom I haven’t seen. Therefore sometimes these posts turn out to be lean. But now I’m reading what Zhenya wrote about Petya and Ira, about whom I write in early February. And I don’t know what to write now. There are only Zhenya’s words, which I’ll cite. He’s never said that about anybody:
“Their love fro one another is unbelievably strong. It shines bright and strong. They know how fragile everything is, and how happy and fortunate they are to be together. They have deserved this happiness. More than anyone else. I don’t even know how to express this. It’s the small things, one can see it in the details, how they worry about one another, they are almost blowing dust motes off one another. And not for show, either. They still can’t believe their luck to be with one another. If anyone wants to confirm such love exists, they just have to cast a glance at this family. They are LIKE THAT… They are a source of light. It can’t be expressed in words. People who went through real hell and did not lose the ability to stay happy, and they are happy earnestly and at the smallest things. One gets a sense they are making up for lost life…”
Petya and Ira.

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Sofiya and Nastya

Sofiya and Nastya are sisters and one can say with certainty they are children of war. Nastya was born in the summer of 2013, while Sofiya in October 2014, at the height of fighting in Lugansk. They have known no life other than war. The family lost its home and now lives in a dorm. The girls, thank God, have a family–they have loving parents, but both are de-facto disabled.


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Our Liliya

If someone can’t be cured, it doesn’t mean they can’t be helped”–I’ve read that phrase somewhere concerning palliative care and it stuck. And only now did I realize it hits the nail on the head. Liliya was quietly dying in her home in Lugansk, of terminal cancer. Her legs gave out and there was nobody left to help. Nobody needed her. She was taking care of a 14-year-old son whom she forbade to change her diapers–which was understandable.
Thanks to you we have an opportunity to make Liliya’s life easier.
Do you remember her earlier photos? Just look–an entirely different person.
Maybe it’s not proper to say this, I don’t know, but yes–Liliya is blooming.

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We need your help!

As you know, Zhenya’s Fiat Ducato suffered an engine breakdown before New Year. There was hope it could be fixed, but it turns out it’s less expensive to buy an engine–obviously a used one. A new one is out of the question.
All this time we’ve been keeping an eye on engines in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. We’ve encountered a mass of problems. Naturally, it wasn’t me who was keeping an eye, but my friends who know what’s what.
Thanks to everyone who wrote and offered solutions. We looked at every option. Zhenya hung out on forums for days. Trust me, he understands these matters.
But all the options are limited by the fact it’s impossible to bring an engine to LPR is out of the question.


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Useful after all!

–I have a DVD player and a huge bag of dvds with cartoons. It’s a pity to throw them out–that collection took a long time to assemble! But now it’s all on the internet…Perhaps someone on the Donbass might find a use for it?
So I kept thinking.
–Bring it along!
And now all these dvds, the player, and all manner of arts and crafts supplies are going to Lugansk with us. Anya, you had doubts?! You’re my precious!)
They proved useful after all, very much so!)))

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Do what you can

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.


Carpe Diem

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.

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