Women and War

Source: Evdokiya Sheremet’eva at littlehirosima.livejournal.com/49467.html

A friend wrote to me about the trip to Lugansk: "Is it worth it? Oligarchs are battling for influence. Ordinary people die. This is the oldest story in the world."
I was confused for a bit. What can I say to that? Over the past few weeks, this is the main question friends ask me - why am I risking life and limb?

I can answer this with a story.

There is a woman there named Chernyh Lyubov Mihailovna, she’s 62 years old...

When we arrived in Lugansk, we were not able to deliver aid to Pervomaysk, which we collected money for. It was, and still is, being heavily shelled. People are hiding in basements and bomb shelters.

Our friends suggested several addresses in the Lugansk area where people needed aid, so we took a little to them. Mostly persons with disabilities, bedridden patients, and the very old.

In one of the houses we met a charming boy who ran away all the time and was too shy to take candy. His grandmother sat in a wheelchair. We were terribly uncomfortable walking into the house with our dirty shoes, so we stood in the doorway and mulled about with packages of food. Visitors from another world. And Lyubov smiled at us. In that smile there was so much pain and at the same time gratitude that it was unbearable to meet her eyes.

- Do you need anything?

- A wheelchair ... I found this, but it is barely holding together. It’s broken.

She is recently disabled - she is unaccustomed to sitting in that pose. As if wearing another person’s body. I look closer – she lost one arm and one leg below the knee. Because of the war, of course.

We leave the house, and Valentina, a local woman helping us, says:

- Lyubov is a hero.

When in August Lugansk was under constant close-range shelling, the huge poultry factory-farm had 4 out of 7 buildings destroyed.

Chickens stayed in the destroyed buildings. Or rather, their corpses did. After a while they began to decompose, worms appeared. A serious threat of contagion in the city, and then an epidemic.

The city was constantly bombed, and there were no workers available to clean out the factory. The residents were asked for help. What did that mean? That meant - in the summer heat, in enclosed rooms, they had to manually rake decomposing remains of birds. It was impossible to work inside for a long time – that could lead to poisoning, or even death. Can you imagine the mountains decomposed carcasses, and the stench amid the heat? And on top of everything, the constant threat of artillery shells.

And the people volunteered. Not men. Women came. Common, normal women. Mothers, grandmothers. Many were older.

Lyubov was one of them.

The same age as my mother-in-law. When I think about it, I can’t breathe.

In the heat, hearing mortars and howitzers, risking their health, she and the others cleared the corpses out of the factory buildings.

Sounds very exaggerated, but it is not. I can’t even explain the heroism of these people. Because I can not imagine how it really is. These are only words. Only a distant echo of what actually happened.

Women in the shops could not take it, often fainted. Many threw up.

Our women can bear that...

And a shell fell next to them.

Lyubov lost an arm and a leg.

And I'll do anything to get a wheelchair and bring it to her.

[littlehirosima on the left I think]

PS: if someone can help, write a PM to me via LJ, or FB, or by mail - littlehirosima@gmail.com

From the translator: Scratch previous postscriptum, Evdokiya speaks English just fine.