There were faded gates not painted with the fresh paint already for 5 years. There was also old and not painted for a long time picket fence. There was a small house with shabby roof behind the fence. The elderly people live in the villages in such way. They are already not able to work in a big kitchen garden. They have no strength to take care of a cow. There is a dozen of chickens in the yard. Someone has a pig in a low shed. That’s their farming.
I went down to their cellars to help them to bring a bucket of potatoes, a bottle of pickles, apple jam jar … I saw the villagers sharing their food products not because they had too much. They had no extra food. But they shared anyway.
We saw nobody behind the gates of one of the houses. But half a sack of potatoes, a bag with a head of cabbage and a dozen of carrots were waiting for us near the bench at the fence. The gate was opened when we uploaded the food into the car and we saw a crooked elderly woman in an old woolen shawl. Life bent her so much that she was no taller than her low wicket.
– Are you collecting all this for Krasnogorovka? – She asked.
– Yes, we do … Thank you…
– Just take, grandkids. Come again if you need more. We are elderly people and we realize what trouble means. Lord, save and keep saved everyone suffering from the war now…
The wicket was closed. We left. We noticed another sack of potato near the fence, conservation cans on the bench, bucket with beets and cabbage on the path. We were driving from house to house along the streets of Grigorovka, Nikolskoye and Zolotarevka … Somewhere people are waiting for us. They want to ask questions about everything we see in the east of Ukraine. There are no people near the bags in some places: they felt cold and went home.
I did not think that I will feel so hard … and so happy in the villages. It’s hard because it is very difficult to take something from the poor. They need help themselves: to replace broken slate on a summer kitchen the ceiling is already damaged by the rain drips; to deliver firewood from the forest; to raise the fallen span of the fence; to put a path with stones across the yard because they are tired of dirt on the boots; to buy two dozen chickens in spring, which is not always enough money for from the small pension allowance. Not to mention the winter boots and jackets: the elderly people wear the old shabby ones and are happy to get warm rubber overshoes more than the new shirt. Where can they go to in the new shirt?
But I feel happy at the same time because there are such people. They seem callous, not educated and not too clean. One smokes, another uses bad language and the third loves to drink alcohol. But trouble came to the threshold of the country, and it turned out that a completely different person is hid somewhere behind the rude and weathered face. Such person doesn’t look for excuse or justification but just shares a piece of bread, takes off and gives out own shirt, boots, and can of fat or bottle of honey …
A woman came with a bottle of goat milk and cottage cheese package. The girl met us with a box with her toys, pencils and a card for unfamiliar friend. A widow continued to carry the cans with tomato juice, salads and jams out of her cellar. I saw her leaving less for herself for winter than she gave out, and I was ready to burst and to scream at the sky: “Lord, give me the strength to endure it. Your presence in the lives of ordinary people tears me. I find it hard not to stop them. It’s hard not to feel sorry for them. But once You were sitting at the treasury of the temple and didn’t stop the widow who gave all his daily food. You didn’t stop! You saw her heart. I saw how huge was becoming her treasure in Heaven at that moment. You immortalized her at the pages of Scriptures. And now … There are the same old people who do not even have a bicycle … The same widows who has no one in this life to hope for … The same grandmothers who say, “Come … We understand what trouble means …” How can I stand it, Lord? How can’t I stand in front of you on my knees in tears?”
The refugees living in Nikolskoye also donated for the people of Krasnogorovka. The family from Gorlovka, who bought the shabby mud hut in the village for their last money, pulled a huge bag into the yard.
– Here I have a new suit and winter jacket and Christian books. – The host said.
– Ruslan, there is no even a chair in your hut. – I tried to refuse. – You will remain without winter jacket.
– Do not say anything – he waved. – My wife and I have decided so.
For three hours we collected more than we could transport. We loaded the bus and the trailer with the food in the evening. There were still six hundred kilograms of products in the yard. What should we do with them now? Will we have a chance to go to the front-line zone once again before New Year?
Krasnogorovka met us with rawness. Brothers and sisterы of Christ the Savior church were certainly waiting for us. They were very grateful to the villagers for the conservation, honey, for tins with home-canned meat and fat. They were smiling smiling, but it was evident that winter had a big impact on them. There wasn’t frosty weather yet but there was 0 degrees according Celsius in the apartments. The stoves don’t help much. You have to put firewood all night long into it but it becomes as cold as was before just 2 hours after you fall asleep. It is more difficult to stand coldness than to starve. About 50 people fall asleep and never wake up in February the last year in this town during three frosty nights. In summer, people were hoping that something will be changed till the next winter: the war will be over, gas and electricity will be installed in the town again. Nothing was changed. No gas, no electricity, no heat. And the guns are still shooting.
The only change is that the new volunteers rise instead of tired and already exhausted ones. The cars with food and clothing go to the front-line areas from Kiev, Lviv, Kirovograd … Even from small villages such as Grigorievka, Nikolskoye, Zolotarevka, Kobzarevka … The villages are half-empty, overgrown with acacias and maples. But the people are not half-empty there. And their souls were not overgrown with acacia and maple. Only now people are not half-empty.
We thank the Christians of “Bethlehem” church in Nikolskoye. They called us in “Emmanuel” Association. They said: Come, we want to collect food for freezing Krasnogorovka. And they’ve done it! Thank you! May God bless each of you!
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.
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