“It’s a hardscrabble situation here, but at least we are free”

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Bombed out, and bombed again. Screen capture from video at site

If this were your livingroom wall…

Christelle NEANT 

In DoniPress, July 14, 2016
Translated from French by Tom Winter July 19, 2016

It’s Wednesday July 13, and my colleagues Vittorio Rangeloni, Katya Katina, and I are in Golmovsky to provide humanitarian assistance from an Italian humanitarian association to a family who lives here. 

The family has already moved several times, and had one of there previous homes destroyed by the bombing of the Ukrainian army. 

They eventually found refuge in the home of the recently deceased paternal grandmother, only to see this house also bombarded. 

Because of the the Ukrainian army closing in on the line of contact, and using more and more of the heavy artillery, areas that were peaceful after the Minsk agreements are again subject to night bombing by Ukrainian armed forces.

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It’s not quite two weeks since their house was hit; a shell landed outdoors. The shrapnel from it burst the windows, pockmarked the walls and put a big hole in the livingroom wall. 

The windows were quickly replaced and they patched or rebuilt the interior walls but the outer hole is still there, hidden behind the TV stand.

Because of their recent moves, the family is still considered living at their previous home which is in a “safe area,” and therefore they do not receive help from the Russian Federation or the Government. In the meantime of having their documents redone, to get by they are only entitled to the help of the Red Cross, and their vegetable garden and some livestock.

So we are bringing them tea, coffee, sugar, condensed milk, some sweets, cakes for children, and especially hygiene products (toilet paper, soap, shampoo, toothpaste). The couple thanked us warmly and insisted on inviting us to eat.

These people lack so much and yet they are eager to share with us what little they have, though they hardly know us. It is this great humanity and solidarity of the people of Donbass that touches me wherever we go. The contrast with Western nations where every man for himself is the rule is such that I sometimes feel that our two peoples live on two different planets. 

We talk during the meal. The man says he has Russian origins, his wife is from Moldova and her brother is married to a Ukrainian. For him the war is senseless, all Slavic peoples are brothers, and the dérussification of Ukraine is complete nonsense. Ukraine and Russia are linked and inseparable. His brother, who lives in Argentina, has offered refuge there, but he refused: “It is true that the situation here is difficult. But at least here we are free. And that’s the essential.”

Should you wish to help this family, you can send donations via PayPal to the Italian association Orizzonte Solidale: https://www.paypal.me/OrizzonteSolidale 

Or should you want to use another method, contact (in English, Italian or Russian) my colleague: [email protected]

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