Humanitarian aid worker about her experience in Pervomaysk

Source: Sheremet’eva Evdokiya,

People get killed here

“- Evgeniy Ishchenko was ambushed and killed, and three volunteer aid workers from Moscow with him.”

I put down the phone, and my legs gave way.

All the relatives and friends are starting to call in panic.

Was it us!? Could have been.

But we are still driving near Rostov, in an overloaded van carrying humanitarian aid.

Driving into the unknown.

- Don’t go there! There’s constant shelling, everyone is fleeing!

- Mom, it's okay.

We grit our teeth and go.

Village of Hryaschevatoe

We get through the border checkpoint, as if in an endless dream. Good thing all the border guards and customs officers remember us.

On the other side, we are greeted by the guys from Pervomaysk volunteer police, as well as Jeka and Lena, my friends. Almost family by now.

- Is it true? Was he killed?

- Yes...

I’ve only seen Evgeniy Ishchenko – Pervomaysk’s “people’s mayor”, once. When we came to the city in December, I was introduced to him:

- This is Dunya, in the flesh.

Evgeniy looks, smiles and waves his hand:

- Oh, Dunya, people are always talking about you!

We shake hands, and he looks me in the eye. He has huge hands. Not hands, paws. Meanwhile, he is surrounded by the town residents with thousands of questions. They want him to split into a thousand Evgeniys and solve them.


I do not know Evgeniy’s past. On the Internet, Kiev posters say he was a criminal back in the day, maybe it is true. I do not care - I knew his present. That’s what’s important. He lived for his city, and did everything for it. When everyone fled, he stayed and took responsibility. And he lived for Pervomaysk and its interests. He left behind two children, the younger daughter is six months old.

Guys told me:

“- Imagine - recently he pried out an artillery shell with his bare hands, put it into his car and took it out of the city. The bomb disposal team refused to approach the thing, and he did it. How can one take such risks? But that’s the kind of man he is.”

The kind of man he was.

It’s still hard to believe he’s dead. He was all life and vigor.

Ishchenko got humanitarian aid for the town using every trick in the book. It was he who went everywhere, tried everything, begged, swallowed his pride. He knew all about the city – whenever a house was hit, he was the first to the scene. Not even a day later they’d begin repairing the damage. We were in Pervomaisk during the so-called cease-fire, but the city was shelled quite often. And the city still had electricity and water. They constantly repaired, rebuilt.

How can they do it without him?


Letter from Evgeniy Ischenko to Sheremet’eva Evdokiya (“littlehirosima”) thanking her for the humanitarian aid delivered to the inhabitants of Pervomaysk

We cross the border, and we understand that everything is different now. No truce whatsoever. All-out war.

- Dunya, we won’t take you guys to Pervomais'k, don’t even ask. We'll unload the car, leave the aid at my house and wait until it subsides. Then we will deliver everything - take photos and video of it being handed out, post it. Now it’s impossible, no way.

For several days now Pervomaysk, Stakhanov and Kirov are constantly pounded. No stopping. People exist in basements. Hopeless hell started again. Already a friend messaged me - his father was wounded by shrapnel in Kirovsk.

Only Donetsk on the news. Only a few words about the situation in the Lugansk People’s Republic. A girl riding with us in the car is also from Pervomaysk, she’s the girlfriend of Rostislav the volunteer policeman. As we drive, we hear blasts in the distance. Julia curls up and slides down the seat.

I do not understand what is happening, but I start to panic a little. Jeka says:

- It’s all right, this is far away. Lugansk is quiet.

The whole night, Grads were going off. Before going to sleep, I heard a couple of volleys and then passed out. Ruben said that it continued all night. Unbelievable.

Library in Hryaschevatoe

The next day, we went to the village of Hryschevatoe. Most of it was razed to the ground back in the summer. The whole place is just ruins. On every street, there is a burnt APC or tank. Almost no people left. They flicker like shadows inside the remaining houses.

Skeletons of houses, burned cars, inverted barbecues on the lawns where people had cookouts once...

All covered by snow and silence

Novosvetlovka, Hryaschevatoe – just ghost towns in which people live.

Hryaschevatoe has no electricity even now.


And when we returned home to Jeka, I saw pieces of paper on the table. Notes from his parents, written during the shelling of Lugansk, when there was no communication and notes were passed on with the minibus drivers. Minibuses operated despite the bombing and shelling.

Lena looks at the notes, and her eyes are full of tears.

- We didn’t have to spend long under heavy shelling, but Pervomaysk has lived like that for more than six months... And now it’s even worse there...

… Why?

Why isn’t anybody crying for them?

Why aren’t they screaming on the streets?

Why aren’t there rallies and marches?

Why is it only some text below the news feed and a post or two online?

In Hryaschevatoe and Novosvetlovka, about 150 people were killed, in Pervomaysk, by various estimates, up to 500 people! And what about other cities?

Why doesn’t the world care? Why???


[blog posts to be continued]

*Text of the parent’s note:
Kids, we’re doing just fine. Jeka please don’t risk it and don’t drive here on your old scooter(?), there are still [explosions] day and night around here, God willing we will be okay, just don’t drive back and forth, it’s too far. Maybe if its quiet, we will come in the mornings every third day or so. Kisses and Love,
[Dad] [Mom]
PS. Lets do the old schedule, you pass [the notes] at 9am to [bus] L6102, I’ll get them.