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Forgotten by children and state. Everyday life of senior IDPs from Donbas. Part 2

Forgotten by children and state. Everyday life of senior IDPs from Donbas. Part 2

There is no more “Dopomoha” (“Aid”) hospeace in Alchevsk any more.


Or, to be precise, its director, Oleh Horbachyov, will never return to the occupied part of the Luhansk region.

A forty-year-old man can now speak about this loss calmly.

He has been trying to survive in Brovary district (the Kyiv region) for two years and he rents a house for his enormous family there. The inhabitants of this house are:

– he himself and his wife,
– their three biological children,
– two adopted children,
– more than twenty internally displaced elderly people who used to be Alchevsk hospeace patients.

Forgotten by children and state. Everyday life of senior IDPs from Donbas. Part 1


Pics courtesy of UN Refugee Agency in Ukraine.

Oleh’s main aim now is to find a spacious house in the Kyiv region as, despite being safe now, people under his care are cramped into a tiny house.

In fact, the hospeace looks more like barracks than like a centre for the elderly.

Two-tier beds are placed half a metre away from each other. The room hosts fifteen men. Senior ladies walk slowly upstairs, the conditions are similar there: two-tier beds and up to ten people per room.

Despite lack of space, Oleh cannot refuse newcomers and his hospeace has already hosted a senior lady from Brovary.

Oleh’s philosophy is simple: you never know where you will be when you are old.

"My Grandpa had five sons but I never saw any of them. I started searching for some information in my family archives and discovered that that Grandpa’s father died in a nursing home too. A lot of people were building communism and the “bright future” of the country at that time so they sent their children to nursing schools when they were two months old. Later, they got the result.”

Oleh Horbachov is a father of five himself and he is very emotional whan he tells the story:

"I do this to have decent life when I am old. I want to show the state that an old person is not used material. A person must be in the first place."

“I am not a burden, I am a part of our community”

New life started for Yuriy Myronyuk from Alchevsk six years ago when he married for the second time, in the hospeace. His first wife had died and relatives had thrown him away from the flat. He found himself in the street and this hospeace became his second home. Here, he gets food, clothes, a shelter and he found an unexpected love.

Some time before the interview Yuriy lost his eyesight. “My wife was my guide, she was taking me around and telling how beautiful the place was.”

However, these are already memories of the past as due to sponsors’ aid Yuriy was operated on one eye.

"Now I can walk up and down the stairs without anyone’s help", says the man happily as he guides us around the premises himself and tells us about the evacuation.

"It took Oleh three attempts to take us away: first the bridge was blown up, then we could not leave due to shellings... Oh, look! Our guys are making camouflage nets for the military", he shows a net which has just been finished on the second floor of a neat dining-room.

Olena, his wife, is 55. She had a stroke some years ago. She started walking again thanks to the care she got in the hospeace. She also found her destiny here.

Olena is very serious about her duty which is to wash up and help in the kitchen. “I do the washing up and my husband helps me. I also care about our elderly. I am not a burden, I am a part of our community”.

62-year-old Ihor does not waste time either. His brother was killed and the man was left alone. As the weather gets warmer, he starts looking after the courtyard.

He waters trees and flowers: “I like looking after our garden. It is summer now and the nature does so many beautiful things... And I help to preserve them.”

Ivan was 77 when he was left alone. He found the hospeace for the elderly in Alchevsk himself, he came there and said: “I am lonely, I want to be with you.”

When they moved to the Kyiv region, Ivan decided to help in the kitchen.

"The best moments for me are when different kinds of pastry are being baked and I help to cook them.", says a senior IDP fromthe Luhansk region.

Despite his age, Ivan remains very optimistic.

Victor who is 76 comes from the village of Pisky in the Donetsk region. He had spent in a basement more than a year, went through the most horrible shellings there and lost hearing due to hostilities.
Ukrainian soldiers found him and took him to hospital. Chaplains brought him to the hospeace later.

“Well, old man, will you go to Kyiv?”, asked me chaplains.

“Why not, I will go anywhere where they will not shell us...”
69-year-old Victor from the Luhansk region was alone after his wife’s death. He was brought to the hospeace by volunteers.

He says that the most difficult period for him was that of shellings when it was impossible to understand who was firing, where shells were flying from and when it would all end.

"I did not even know whether anyone would find me after that”, says Volodymyr. “What I dream about here? My dream is to have more paper and pencils then I will be able to make this world a little better.”

According to the Ministry of Social Policy data, more than 60% of IDPs are elderly people or people with limited abilities.

There are 17 thousand IDPs from the Donbas in the Kyiv region only. Still, the reports do not say anything about homeless ones, former alcoholics or drug addicts who are looking for peace and quiet as well.


Katya Lutska for UP. Life.

New service "Explain Ukraine". This is a daily mailout of two 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.

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