Littlehirosima: “Smile, Veronika!”

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Original by Yevdokia “Dunya” Sheremetyeva published on the littlehirosima blog; translated from Russian by J.Hawk  and originally published at South FrontNovember 11th, 2015

 “–Hold her, please. Veronika, can you go to the lady?”
The girl nods in embarrassment.
I pick her up.
–How old are you?

Veronika is embarrassed, turns away. Mom answers for her:
“–She’s 7. Smile, dear!”
–Like my daughter. You hear? I have a daughter just like you.
 

We met Veronika and her mom, Larisa Emelina, during our September trip, in Pervomaysk.
Larisa gave birth late, at 43. There is no father–he died shortly after she was born. A tragic accident.
Larisa is raising her daughter by herself.

She started to suffer from epilepsy at the age of one, after a vaccination. One way or the other, Veronika can’t walk and suffers from seizures.
Her legs are weak and bent.
We were just about the first people to hold her, other than her mom.

“–It’s just me and her…”
Veronika was made so nervous by our arrival that her legs began to shake.

Zhenya took her from me and started to spin.
And Veronika suddenly started to laugh.
Up to then she was a scared little rabbit.
Then she suddenly opened up.
I look, and her mother is wiping tears.

Last time we visited, Larisa carried her daughter the whole time. She
said that her carriage is too small and asked for a walker or a
wheelchair.
I wrote a post on the subject and almost instantly got a response.
Sergey Beglov, who constantly helps us find necessary medications, found
and sponsored the purchase of  a child wheelchair. “Thanks” in this
case, Serezha, is not enough, but you understand)

Veronika couldn’t take her eyes off it.
It has pictures, it is merry and sunny.

We also received an answer from our compatriots in Austria. We got
into correspondence and they bought and sent us a walker for Veronika. I
can’t express how wonderful they were. Thank you! From all of
us–Larisa, Veronika, Zhenya, and me…

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The photo below shows the walker on the right.
Veronika has a hard time with it. But it’s necessary.
And very important. Walking is hard, but one has to practice and develop the leg muscles.
Larisa lives in her own house on the city outskirts.
They have no contact with almost anyone.
Larisa is practically a grandmother. Her daughter and her husband live a few houses down the street.
But even with them they have few ties.
But Larisa is an active woman. She has a garden full of turkeys. A big enclosure.
“–Veronika likes meat.”

Lots of shells fell close to the ouse.
“–Last summer they bombed us from aircraft. Veronika sat here on a chair
under the apricot tree. I stood there, and saw how they flew right
overhead. I froze with terror and couldn’t even move. My older daughter
is running through the gardens, screaming. She jumped into a ditch and
lay there. I stood still, could only look up, as if I was completely
paralyzed. But they missed…Thank God.”

The house is on the outskirts. Close to the “ukies”, as they say.
Larisa has nowhere to go.
“–Who needs me and my daughter? Here at least we have a garden, a home, a life.”

We gave her a doll. I’ll tell you about it later. And about a few
others. Veronika wouldn’t let go of it. It is hand-made and beautiful.
It got the name Dunya even though it is a boy. “Dunya” has green eyes,
like I do.
But it arrived here from afar, from overseas.
To support Veronika.

I held Veronika again when the wheelchair was being adjusted.
Mom adjusted Veronika’s cap:
“–She’s a smart and talkative little thing. Could you recite the poem about the raccoon?”
Veronika’s legs stopped trembling. She turned to me and started to
whisper a poem into my ear. So that only I could hear, and nobody else.
She told the poem very well and very clearly. About the raccoon…

“–You know, Dunya, this is the first time someone’s helped me my whole life. Nobody’s ever needed us…”
And Veronika kept on whispering and smiling…

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You, too, can contribute to helping the people of the Donbass. Contact me in person through my livejournal account, through Facebook, PayPal ([email protected]), or via email: [email protected]

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