By standards of frontline town of Maryinka, the life level of Yevgeny Niviforovych can be called decent.
Most of the people living on front line today are ex-workers of coal mines and Yevgeny is a real star among them. For his high performance at work, he was presented with a “Daewoo Nexia” car and his pension amounts to 6,000 UAH ($220). Taking into account the inflation and price increases, this pension is pretty small but compared with other pensioners who receive 1,500 UAH ($55) in average, Yevgeniy is a “wealthy” pensioner!

“I really loved my work and I used to set my own records. We extracted 6 tons of coal per day – the man started telling his story right away as we entered his front yard. It was obvious that he has no one to talk to. –  I had no family and no children, and I worked without letups but I always had money instead. The only close person for me was my goddaughter but she left me.  I used to buy her sweets and presents all the time, but when I became a pensioner and my income decreased, she turned away from me… I really hoped that I would not be alone when I get older but it appeared that the life is harder than I thought. There won’t be any family near me when I die and there will be no one close to bury me…”

But I have my dog Pushok – he added with a big smile on his face and hurried into the house to show us the dog. – He is my joy and my true friend! I talk to him about everything in the world, and it feels like he is going talk back to me soon. He understands everything and will never leave me, unless he goes away to another world.  He is 15 years old already. I will not survive if he dies and he will not survive my death either. So I believe that somehow we will “go away” at the same time”.

When the Second World War began, he was 11 years old. He remembers everything – hunger, Germans and frogs that he tried to catch under the fire. When the war ended, he as a teenager made a decision that he would live comfortably, and grow old with dignity. He did his best to never starve again. However, a new and totally unexpected war in the Donbas has spoiled all his plans. Now, at his old age, he has to hide when he hears the sounds of falling slate and breaking glass. All the houses in the neighborhood one by one, were damaged in 2014.

Half of his “big” pension goes to medicines, and the life becomes even more difficult in winter when he has to spend the other half of the pension for firewood and coal. His car was also damaged with a shell and Yevgeniy is not able to use it any more.

“I really enjoyed driving until I had a stroke and a heart attack six months after that. It’s all because of the stresses of war. But I’m still strong. My doctor said that I was the only one who is still alive after such health problems. My peers are already “there” – they couldn’t endure the stresses of shelling and bombardments.  For some reason, God decided to keep me in this world – may be, it’s because He doesn’t want to leave Pushok alone”.

These are the realities of life of the elderly people living in front-line towns and villages in eastern Ukraine. They are left by everyone but not forgotten by the volunteers and the Pope! They are bored and lonely, and a random visit by any alive person to their homes is an extreme luxury in their life. Yevgeniy enjoyed every minute of talking to our team while we checked the quality of work of the installed boiler equipment. The boiler is working properly, the house is warm, and smoke is slowly coming out of the chimney. And all this happened thanks to the project implemented by “Pope for Ukraine” Initiative in partnership with “Emmanuel” Charity Association.

We are grateful to Pope Francis and all Catholic Christians from Europe who answered the Popes call for help the conflict-affected people of Donbass!