30-years old Katia Kofanova lives in the Chasiv Yar town, Donetsk region in the war-affected eastern Ukraine.
Katya is a single mother of four children. Raising them by herself has been a constant struggle and balancing at the poverty line.
Katya shares that many people in her life have asked her a surprising question: “Are these all your children?” Katya firmly believes that abortion is a murder. Therefore, when she became pregnant with a third girl, there was no doubt about “keeping her or not”. Her decision to keep the pregnancy was not affected even by the outbreak of hostilities in the region.
Katya gave birth to her third daughter after they had to leave their home town looking for a safer place to live. When the baby girl was 3 months old, Katya couldn’t breastfeed her any more – the milk was gone due to a severe stress. How can one explain to a 3-month-old baby that here is no more breast milk for her? And the little girl cried aloud at the house of the people who had given them a shelter in the times of war…..
RETURNING HOME AS A LARGER FAMILY
In the fall of 2014, Katya returned home with her three daughters. There had been no shooting in the neighboring town of Bakhmut. However, one could still hear the sounds of war in the remote villages. The echo of the war still can be heard today. However, the family had to return home – they were too tired of wandering and being a burden to others.
Having returned to their home town, Katya became pregnant with the fourth child. After the delivery, Katya’s husband left her. He still helps occasionally when he is able.
Katya’ s daughters are all under five years old. The youngest one is only 2 months old now. 4-year old Nastya has experienced war and being a refugee since her birth. Despite all of the difficulties in her life, the girl turned to be very intelligent and well developed – she draws and writes a lot. Her health is very weak, however, and she is sick most of her life.
“I have no one to rely on. I have 4 children and a 70-year-old grandmother to care for”, – Katya shared. – All six of us are doing our best to be happy in our small house of 35 square meters.
No one had ever helped us so much before, but God has been sending so many caring people our way recently. They are not just helping, they really care for us, which is very important. My colleagues from my previous job have given me some diapers. Now you have brought us the seeds and potatoes for gardening. When we opened the package with the seeds, the children were so happy. They rushed to examine the seeds and showed so much interest in them! My dream is to receive a rich crop from these seeds to fill our whole cellar! Then I will not have to worry about getting food for the winter!”
Katya has a dream – to learn how to sew and start a sewing workshop. According to her, there is no tailor and no seamstress in the village.
“This winter has been particularly difficult for us. Almost all of the money that I received as the children’s allowance was spent for firewood. Our house is old, the walls are thin, so the heat does not stay long. When it was quite cold, my friend let me live in her house with my children. So we survived this winter without freezing.
Our house is very old, with an outside toilet. And I know that my children should grow in normal living conditions. So I learned how to plant a garden, and now I need to learn how to sew, to give children a good picture of the world. Children should not live in such a wretched house. “
The Seeds of Hope
We called Katya the other day to find out how she was doing. She was happy to tell us that the radish and salads were almost ripe, and the rest of the seeds are beautifully and harmoniously rising in their beds.
“We receive 860 UAH ($33USD) from our government and it’s not enough! Thankfully, the vegetables have grown very fast! I try to take a very good care of the garden in order to save the harvest! If everything grows well, we will not have to buy anything from the farmers! And this would be a real success for us! This huge package of various seeds and a bag of potatoes is a luxury for us! I really appreciate this help and I thank the Pope and all those people who cared to buy and deliver this wealth to us! Now we can be sure that we will have something to eat! Thank you for giving us hope! “