Two years ago all of us got new neighbours. New moms with perambulators. New senior ladies in queues. New shop assistants in a shop nearby. They were internally displaced persons looking for peace in strange cities. IDPs who sometimes bore the stigma of “poorly-educated Donbas marginals”. The truth is they are different...
Tetyana, an artist from Horlivka has been living in Fastiv since September 2014. When she realized that she had to flee, she started looking for some help and for accommodation via the Internet and some artists she knew. It was easier at that time, and it is still easier now, to address people for help than to ask authorities.
Tetyana continues painting just as she used to do before the war. All her thoughts and emotions live on the canvas. It may seem strange, but the mood of her paintings is not the mood of war. On the contrary, there is a lot of freedom in them and they are full of light. Tetyana says that when she arrived in Fastiv, she used to come outside to listen to the Ukrainian language. It calmed her down and gave her the feeling of being at home, on her land. She enjoys seeing crowds in the streets. She likes seeing trolleys with “For the servicemen of Anti-Terrorist Operation” signs (people can put there food which is sent to the front then). And she also likes being among people who share her ideas and believe in the future.
She is grateful to people who surround her for their warmth and assistance. To the landlady who has not risen the rent a single time during all the period that Anna has lived there, despite the fact that prices are growing all the time. Painting is not a regular source of income and Tetyana’s expenses have increased as she had to arrange her living in a completely new place and to pay the rent. This is why whenever she sells a painting, she buys paints and food — you never know when the next opportunity will present itself.
Some of the paintings are sold for charity purposes, volunteers sell them at auctions and the money is used to help warriors of the Anti-Terrorist Operation. This helps her live as well as Tetyana feels that she can be useful for others. She thinks that there is a drop of her efforts in the common ocean of kindness in the world.
A tiny room she is currently renting is a studio and a home simultaneously. Her plates are dishes and a palette at the same time. But Tetyana knows that this will not last. She believes that one day she will be able to but a little house where there will be enough space for life and creativity.
She does not want to return to Horlivka. Even if the war finishes. Even if Ukraine comes back there.
She does not understand how it will be possible for her to live in the same town with those people.
This story could become just another tragedy against the war background. Instead of this, it became an example of beginning her life from scratch having only a desire to live and nothing more. The war made Natalya flee and she ended up in the town of Vatutyne (the Cherkassy region). First, volunteers helped her rent some accommodation but the nightmare of the war was not going to finish. Four daughters are a tremedous stimulus for doing something not to sit idly waiting for the conflict to end. Vatutyno is a small town and employment prospects are quite poor there. It is even more difficult to find a well-paid job which would allow to provide for the needs of four children and help to pay the rent.
One day Natalya posted an advertisement on her Facebook page: “Please, send us second-hand children’s clothes and footware. The condition is not important. We will mend them and sell at a reasonable price. This will help us pay the rent and bills.” Parcels come from everywhere, from all the regions of Ukraine. Natalya and her older children wash the clothes and shoes, iron the things, mend them, restore and sell the things which are out of fashion, old or their owners are just tired of them.
The prices at her tiny stall are much lower that in second-hands and the quality is perfect. Locals are queuing to buy the things she sells. Natalya does the things she can do and she puts her heart and soul into this business.
Gradually, hunger and poverty stopped threatening her and now her family is not afraid of tomorrow any more. Natalya’s page on Facebook is full of children’s photos of grateful words to those who help her and her family survive. These are photographs of happy children that do not look gloomy and scared any more.
Sometimes there are other posts there: “We do not want to take things only, we want to do something useful and to give something to others! Once, someone sent us a lot of white fabric. I was thinking for a long tome about what I could do with it and then I saw an advertisement from volunteers: “It is winter now and our Army needs white camouflage nets badly.” I understood then that there was some work waiting for us! We took a 35 square metres net from volunteers of our town and our white fabric.
Together with my children we started making a camouflage net. Unfortunately, the war is not over yet and we want all our soldiers to come home alive! There has been enough victims”.
The war is not over... But people do everything to make it finish as soon as possible. Natalya and her family do everything they can as well. A big family in a little strange town.
Transit destinies. 10 stories of women who have no definite place of residence. Part 1
Transit destinies. 10 stories of women who have no definite place of residence. Part 2
Lesya Lytvynovа, TV director, coordinator of centre for IDPs (Frolovska str., 9/11), Co-founder of “Svoi” Charity Fund, migrants.zn.ua
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