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...
Mom Lyuba has four Slavyks. People who see them for the first time are amazed. The boys are so similar that they look like fourplets, but actually, Rostyslav and Svyatoslav are ten years old, Yaroslav is eight and Myroslav is seven. By the way, no one calls them “Slavyk” at home, for their mom they are Rostyk, Svyat, Yasya and Mirek.
They left their native city of Donetsk in August 2014. No one was going to help them with evacuation, they just got into the car together with the children and took their four sons to Kramatorsk which had been liberated by that time. Later, they came back to fetch their dog to Kramatorsk as well. It was the war and they could not leave the dog in Donetsk. They hoisted the flag of Ukraine on their house, locked the doors and left.
It was much more difficult to leave the city for the second time as there were “DPR” checkpoints everywhere and Lyubov and her husband felt very scared. When they were trying to find their way among the fields, people wearing camouflage gear stopped them. They asked where they were going, pointing the guns at them. Mom Lyuba had only two thoughts: “Thanks God, out children are in Kramatorsk” and “They are so nervous that if the dog starts barking, they will shoot her dead.” However strange it may seem, the dog seemed incredibly moving for people in camouflage without insignia. “Oh, what a nice doggy! All right, you may pass”.
Serhiy and Lyubov sold their car in Kramatorsk and opened a small greengrocer’s shop. But either people could not afford fresh fruit and vegetables at that time, or they were just unlucky, but they had to close their business. They tried to get a grant for another business, but there was no luck again — they would have to invest a lot of their own money and they did not have enough even to pay the rent.
When they ran out of all the variants to feed their children in Kramatorsk, they moved to Kyiv. There are more opportunities here and it is easier to find a job. Their father found a position of a manager of a department in one of Kyiv supermarkets really quickly. His salary equals the rent for a flat in Rusanivka (one of Kyiv districts). Lyubov is a freelancer, she still has not managed to find a job. It is nearly impossible to feed, dress and bring up four boys, who grow up so quickly, without anyone’s help, but Luybov and her husband are lucky, people help them from time to time. They cannot go back to Donetsk as people there know too much about their pro-Ukrainian position.
The boys attract a lot of attention. People are keen on taking photographs with them and turn around when the group passes by. No one knows about their life in a strange city.
They had to give up their music classes. Slavyks missed too much material while wandering around the country and now the boys are afraid that they will never be able to catch up on the curriculum. They used to be the best pupils in their secondary school back there, in Donetsk, but now they are C students. It is difficult for them to adapt to new life because they lack stability and understanding of what will happen tomorrow. “Mom, are we going to the same school next academic year?” Their mother does not know.
They have stopped asking for ice creams or sweets long ago. They are big boys and they understand everything. They want to live in Ukraine. They wear vyshyvamkas (traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirts) and they sing Ukrainian songs. And they are extremely interested in the history of their country.
The first lady of Ukraine took them together with a group of other internally displaced children to Holodomor (man-made famine in 1932-1933 in Ukraine) Museum last year... Now, they know that there are things in this life which are much worse than their present difficulties. And it is not a disaster that their parents do not always have enough money to buy food...
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
Transit destinies. 10 stories of women who have no definite place of residence. Part 3
Transit destinies.10 stories of women who have no definite place of residence. Part 4
Lesya Lytvynovа, TV director, coordinator of centre for IDPs (Frolovska str., 9/11), Co-founder of “Svoi” Charity Fund, migrants.zn.ua
New service "Explain Ukraine". This is a daily mailout of five articles which were written about the situation in the Donbas by Donbas journalists and translated into English. Honest vision of people who work in the field is unbiased and fresh which is crucial in the world which is full of desinformation and propaganda. We try to share this vision in out daily mailout. You can subscribe here.