Disabled people went through the horrors of war, there was no place to go to for help and it was difficult to find a shelter. Journalists of “Donetsk Dialogue” programme (Donbas Public TV) visited a shelter for disabled people from the conflict zone which had been opened by Olha, Slovyansk resident.
As soon as they had even a faintest possibility to get out of the conflict zone, they did it. A lot of today's residents of the shelter arrived at Slovyansk Resort. The head of Slovyansk Society for Disabled had gone through a similar experience herself and she did not hesitate inviting newcomers to stay at her house. Olha herself did not leave Slovyansk even during the hottest conflict days. She did her best to help town residents with special needs and today there are 250 people in the society.
“I sayed here during the whole war. I had had no idea that our Society for Disabled” was so big. When I started there were only 10-20 people, now there are more than 250. We baked bread together when there was no electric power or water, volunteers helped us as well“, tells Olha.
It was just natural for Olha to organize a shelter for internally displaced disabled people as people addressed her and she accepted everyone.
When she ran out of place at her home, servicemen put up a tent in her yard.
“It took servicemen just one day to put the tent up and to connest it to electric power. “Gospel” Church gave us ortopoedic materasses,” says Olha.
The shelter became a little world with its routine for all its residents. They are a friendly family here, sharing happiness and sorrow as well as utility bills and other everyday problems. It is more difficult when disabled people face indifference or cruelty.
“They have threatened to burn our car, they tell my son: “You bought the documents which confirm that you are disabled because you wanted to go without waiting in the queue.” Many people come and explain that he cannot sit inside the car in the sun for a long time as he is disabled and his temperature rises. Some are compassionate, but others aren't”, tells us Yuriy who is internally displaced.
Currently disabled people face tremendous difficulties due to the conflict in the East of Ukraine. The Commissioner on the rights of persons with disabilities informs that authorities have no data about people who are on the territories which are not controlled by the government. There is no data if they are alive or not and where they are.
“The state was bound to evacuate these people. There are those who can move themselves and, even if they have no money, they can borrow some and then work and pay it back, but disabled people cannot do this. This is the direct duty of the state — to evacuate such people and the fact that it was not done was a crime commited by it”, explaines Tatyana Ivanova, a human rights activist.
“I try to visit home every month to see is it has been destroyed or not. Just in case. This was my late parents' house. I have to live somewhere”, says Volodymyr Turbyn an internally displaced person.
Olha tells us that a lot of civil servants visited her house, they helped to solve some problems still, there are more unsolved ones. People with special needs who live in Slovyansk are trying to attract the authorities' attention to their problems, just because they want to be members of society who have the same opportunities as able-bodied ones.
“We are people as well and we want to go around, to have a rest, to swim. We would be happy to work if we could but we can't, unfortunately”, says an internaly displaced resident of the shelter.
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