You get used to it over time when you hear about the shelling of towns and villages every day. There are dead, wounded people, soldiers, officers and civilians … It is war! It lives with death, rattles with iron, which brings death. But I shivered again in February of the last year as if I heard about the death for the first time. I learnt news about frozen people in Krasnogorovka. There were only three frosty nights with temperature more than ten degrees below zero. Just three nights. And there were only pallid statistics in the news: “Five people fell asleep in their beds, were frozen to death and never woke up during the first night in Krasnogorovka. Eight more people froze to death during 2 next nights…”
It was terrible to hear that. We used to visit Krasnogorovka for almost 6 months before that. I must have seen some of these people. We probably gave a couple of loaves of bread to some of them. Someone got food bags delivered by us in the church. Someone … refused to take our wood stove. Some women said:
– What purpose do I need a stove for? Where and how will I install it in my apartment on the fourth floor? Where will I get firewood? Besides, there will be much smoke and dirt in the room…
They hoped that the broken by mines city gas pipeline will be repaired soon. The exploded power lines will be also restored. Gas, electricity and heating will be in the town again… The winter was over. Perished and frozen people were buried. But there was still no gas and heating. The light was only occasionally. Repairmen shrug: what can we do if all the fields around the town are shot through by snipers and covered with mortars on the command of spotters.
The repairmen failed to do anything in the spring, summer and autumn. Krasnogorovka is experiencing a second winter without heating now. Nobody refuses to accept the stoves now and firewood in the town is “more precious than gold.” The people come up when the buses of “Emmanuel” Association enter the town.
– Have you brought the stoves?
The same question sounds every day at the morning prayer meeting:
– Do not know if the stoves will be delivered?
Many people simply do not have money to buy an iron stove from the craftsmen. Where should they get the money if there is neither job nor salary in the town already for the second year? And one must live … The people just want to survive. The elderly people have no place to go. Thank God that the young people left and settled somehow. They have small children and more energy…
Lydia Stepanovna is 73. She is talking to my colleague, a young journalist Tatyana Rudenka, in her apartment near a hot stove. She is telling about herself quietly and then wiping the tears:
– I wasn’t in the church yesterday. I have bleeding. I have to wear diapers… I didn’t go today too because I’ve got high blood pressure and hardly can stand on my feet. But I can’t sit alone. I want to be in the church with God. I feel alive only in the church among the people. And I’m very tired of the loneliness, war and cold. I stay in boots in the apartment and still freeze. I would like to turn on the heater but there is no electricity for three weeks.
Grandma Lidia is crying. How can I comfort her? What can I say? She continues a minute later:
– I sit on the bench near the entrance of the building when they are shooting. I’m afraid of being pressed down by the concrete walls in the apartment. And I can’t go to the basement as it is not enough air for me there. I have diabetes. The people are in the basement, and I’m on the bench … And the guns continue to shoot. I want greatly the peace and warmth to come…
I do not know about whom Galina Kucher was telling in the US in the fall: about grandma Lidia or any other elderly lady among hundreds living in Krasnogorovka. They are lonely and they are waiting the end of the war in the frozen town. There are tens of thousands of such fates along the front-line. It is worse than “frozen” to hear about them “drank a handful of sleeping pills”, “hang”, “gone crazy” … This is terrible news of the war.
Thank God, there is other news. Volunteers and Christians from various countries deliver food, clothing and medicines to Donbas. Galina Kucher had a meeting with the members the Ukrainian-American Cultural Association in Portland. I think they have never been in Ukraine and they certainly have never been to freezing Krasnogorovka. But the brothers and sisters in Christ from Portland donated 2800$ precisely for the people of Krasnogorovka and in particular for the stoves. We bought 43 stoves and have filled a truck with diesel fuel for this money. These stoves are in Krasnogorovka now. There are 43 more apartments, where the firewood is crackling in the stove, where an elderly lady and her neighbors can boil tea and hear some water to wash themselves…
And someone at the front line is running now to the store to pay their last money for a pack of dry fuel. The people will heat a plate of soup by burning up a cube of dry alcohol. They will extinguish it after that in order to boil a cup of tea with the help of the same cube. It is the war … We must live further.
Gennady Novikov, the press center of “Emmanuel” Association.
We just remind that “CBN-Emmanuil” continues to help the people from the South-East of Ukraine.