61-year old Valentina Grigorievna lives in the frontline Maryinka with her elderly mother.
Their house is well kept and clean. Valentina met us at the gate, and her good manners are obvious at the first glance. After talking to her a little, it was also obvious that she is filled of internal pain and it appeared true after we heard her story.
“I’m not afraid of war anymore even though the war is right outside my window. The worst thing that could have happened already happened to us. I have 2 daughters and 4 grandchildren. When the first shelling began, people tried to escape. My daughter took her two sons and left. They wanted the kids to be safe, and they planned to return back home afterwards. One grandson, Timur was 12 and the other one, Kostya was 17 at the time. Kostya was a talented one. He succeeded in everything he was involved – in dances, in sports, in studies. He didn’t smoke or drink alcohol. After the 9th grade, he entered a professional school in Donetsk to study in construction field. When they came to the new city, he couldn’t stay still because he wanted to help the whole family! He found a job at the construction site and made good money, like an experienced builder. People loved him… but I lost my grandson…he was killed. – Valentina Grigoryevna shared with pale lips, – he walked with a girl after work one evening and some teenagers attacked him, a fight broke out … All this happened in front of his girlfriend. “
Many people came to his funeral, his whole brigade came, they gathered money to help us and they all grieved very much. They loved our boy… Two years have passes since his death but people still remember him”, continued the woman. Even there, far from Maryinka, everyone knew Kostya, as a decent, kind and exemplary guy. It would have been better if they stayed in the war. Who could have known that he would find his death in a supposedly safe place? And I have no life, no joy any more… The sounds of shelling feel like a background of this nightmare. I still have my children and three grandchildren and I live for them… But a piece of my heart is torn away forever”.
Valentina goes to her room to show us a picture of Kostya. In the photo, the boy looks much older than 17 with this strong an passionate look in his eyes. Passionate for life… He could have become an inventor, a businessman or a politician. But, it’s hard to believe that the light of his life has faded …
In early December 2017, we installed a solid fuel boiler from “Pope for Ukraine” Initiative in the house of Valentina Grigorievna and her 90-year-old mother Yekaterina. Today we came to visit them and see how everything works. Both women are happy because it is warm in the house. They told us that last winter, due to lack of heating, the water pipes froze and broke and the water went under the house. In the spring, when everything melted, the water began to rise and seeped into the house through the tiles. The foundation of the house was destroyed. They had to break the floors to get to the pipes, and rebuild everything. Now that they have a boiler they have some new plans of improvements.
“Now that there is heating throughout the house, I will restore the bathroom! We had to wash ourselves in the basin for three years, can you imagine that?”
It was hard to leave and it was difficult to find the words of comfort… But there was a word from God: “Your grandson is with the Lord now and he is safe! This separation seems like an eternity and it hurts you, but just think that it’s good for him! And the time will come when there will be no more tears! “
When we approached this house, we found a fallen bird’s nest and it was so much in tune with the tragic fate of this family!
We are grateful to Pope Francis and all Catholic Christians from Europe who answered the Pope’s call for help the conflict-affected people of Donbass!