Isn’t it too soon? If anything, it’s too late. Well, not entirely, of course.
Friends, since 2014 we have been providing New Year’s greetings for people who live in the war zone. At first it was all very chaotic–someone collected presents, brought them to me, someone bought gift sets and also brought them to my home. We then drove with it from Moscow and other cities to LPR/DPR and distributed among the children.
After that we started to look after not only after the kids but also adults–in hospices, retirement homes. I recall how in January ’15 we simply gave toys to all the kids we met in the grey zones–where there’s still fighting. There weren’t many kids, but I remember nearly all of their faces…I was so scared then–there was constant roar of incoming and outgoing shells. It was noisy the whole time, and the children already back then, five years ago, were so used to it that they did not react to explosions…
The Lugansk Aid Center (the official name is different and totally tooth-rattling) keeps score of many families. With multiple children, without fathers, with adoptive children, with disabled children–everyone who for one reason or another found themselves in a “difficult situation.” They receive help within the center’s abilities. After 2014 the number of such families sharply increased. It also included refugees, who fled to Lugansk from border zones. Many lost their homes, relatives, and other sources of aid. There were many wounded, many people who lost relatives, many disabled. The situation of families who were struggling before the war became utterly desperate when the war began. Unfortunately, there are many women with children who were abandoned by their husbands and have to live on crumbs. There was a New Year’s tree ceremony held for them, during which we, for the fourth year running, give presents to the children. But there were also kids who were unable to come. These kids are disabled.
We came upon the idea several years ago of visiting these families to bring them presents. I did that myself last year. By the end of the day I was prostrate with fatigue but it was genuine happiness. The happiness of children, their parents, grandparents. Both the children and the adults sang, danced, and even cried from the joy and the unexpectedness.
This year I passed the baton to the amazing Olya, a social worker at the Lugansk Center. You should remember Olya, we keep helping her cancer-stricken mother with medications.
Here are some photos of Olya the Snow Maiden with the kids. Various kids–some have mental deficiencies, others physical ones. Yet others have none, but all of these kids and their parents are struggling.
Zhenya wrote: “They were waiting for us!!! The kids were prepared, they recited enough poems to last us the whole year.)) For most of them this was a happy event–this much was clear to an unaided eye.”
You don’t know most of these kids, though others you’ve met on the pages of my journal.
Friends, thanks to all of you who helped make this holiday for the kids! You can’t imagine what it means to them to be visited by Grandfather Frost and the Snow Maiden. It’s the happiest of happiness.
Special greetings for these special kids!
You thought our New Year posts have come to an end? No, there is more!
There is a community of the blind in Lugansk, which includes our Vika. They have holiday parties, and we conveyed New Year greetings to them. It seems nobody has done that before us…
The tree celebration was in early January. I did not attend, but Lena and Zhenya recorded everything)))
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.
I have an incredible pile of reports on the recent aid work in Lugansk. I don’t know where to start. Then there’s the damned injury which has temporarily deprived me of sports, which is always dangerous to people around me. Peaceful atom, if not released, may become dangerous.
So I’ve decided to remind New Year is nigh.
My first visit to the Donbass was in late ’14, when there was active fighting. We were bringing food to Pervomaysk bomb shelters and we didn’t even reflect on the fact it was almost New Year. The second trip was a week later, right before the holiday–December 28. At that time people wanting to help the inhabitants of the Donbass were bringing us everything they had available–matches, clothing, noodles, canned meat. A friend came with 15 holiday boxes of chocolate. He brought them and said “give them to the kids there–it’s a holiday there too.”
“It’s a holiday there too”–that phrase sounded surreal. I didn’t get its meaning, threw the boxes into the truck and we took off down m4 in the darkness.
What kind of Grandfather Frost, what kind of a holiday can you expect? There’s nothing there! People are freezing and starving–that’s how it was in Pervomaysk in ’14. My head was full of the explosions and of the destroyed houses.