Tears and blood: a trip into hell among civilians in Donbass

Screen grab from video at site. See video below…

Laurent Brayard
In DONiPRESS, December 10, 2015

Translated from French by Tom Winter

It’s a specific mission that brought me, here in the beginning of December, to show up at the family of young Victoria, a family that Alain Billard and Xavier Moreau encountered back in November. This kid, scarcely 10, lives with her folks on the front not far from the Ukrainian lines. 

The civilians of Donbass, these people forgotten by the French and European media, are bombarded non-stop by the Ukrainian “punishers.” But in the environs, there are no Republic forces, no weapons, no Russian troops. But for all that, they are getting mortared. 

So I am retracing my steps today with two grocery bags for the kid’s family. Because the Vostok Association sent me, in my role of war reporter, to bring this help onto the front line, this modest assist. A few days earlier, we met Julia Safonova in a store to buy some provisions, to the amount of a thousand roubles. A token, no doubt of it, but this help for a family with a total income of R3,000, the gift is enormous.

Svetlana greets us with a smile — we are already acquainted, practically regulars. We sit down at the stove in a makeshift hut in the street outside their shrapnel-pocked building. There is milk, condensed milk, some canned sardines and “Monkey Box”, pasta, rice, cereals, tea, oil, some sweets and apples, that can ensure enough to eat for a while.

But Svetlana is happy to share: some other people emerge from out of the ruins, and she says she wants to share with them, a laudable gesture and an affecting one, given the present situation. I ask, in the name of Vostok France what New Year’s gift the young Victoria, who is away in school, would dream of having.

“That would be a “Baby Born” doll, but you know I do not have the money to buy such a gift, you know it’s that kind of doll that you can feed, and change.”

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Elena and Julia, from Vostok France, will bend heaven and earth to send her this present which a child living under the bombs will surely receive as a gift fallen from out of the sky. 

Further along it is her sister, Tatiana, who welcomes us in the ruins of her house:

“I do not live here any more, but this is my home. I come back here to feed the poor abandoned dog. [Watch for the dog in the video. — tr.] They bombed my house for no reason at all. We were just starting renovations, but now you see …”

She chokes up; she continues her story through tears. Indeed the whole area is completely devastated by mortars and Ukrainian projectiles. The place is quite disturbing and yet a humanitarian worker, native of Donbass, tells me that in this village in its ruins no less than 102 people still live here, including several children. We change position again and take our car to get us opposite Terminal 1.

The Ukrainians bomb here. There is a grandmother who welcomes us to her house,

which is virtually intact. The remains of four surrounding houses, completely devastated, grimly adorn the landscape. Here, too everything is desolation, but here, too, people survive, some in better conditions but it is bare survival, what could it be else?

With modest funds, Vostok France,* which makes a patient and intelligent use of funds, could again reduce the suffering of a few good people. Two bags of groceries, that was all, but two of them, through the generosity of a few French have made some people happy in this world of death at the Donbass front. Imagine that 1000 rubles, is currently about 13 euros, 13 euros … for most French that amount per month is a joke, so let us think that with only a small donation you can achieve a significant charitable work in such a serious situation as civilians of Donbass.

A university professor here earns 66 rubles a month, an employee of a kiosk at Chaourma, four euros per working day, or 95 euros for a six-day work week, while 13 euros dear fellow citizens … , think about it. This is the price maybe a life saved, a renewed hope, a child who some night will have a smile. What is that worth?

The video

*The need for humanitarian assistance is very real. Fort Russ advises its readers to use their own judgment about which means to use.

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