Three Family Stories from Donetsk
9 January, 2015

In eastern Ukraine, near the town of Makiivka there are three families that must make daily sacrifices to survive.

One only uses an electrical bulb as light and doesn't turn on the refrigerator in order to save money on electricity, since they don't have any money left. Another cannot buy a school breakfast for their child because 8 HRV a day is too much. These are daily realities for the residents of Makiivka.

Many of them see no social benefits either because they are on maternity leave or because of some chronic illness of a parent or child. Natalia has 2 children: a first-grade son and a 10 month old daughter. She takes care of them without her husband and with her elderly mother. She has not received any funds for her children since the summer. They don't have any relatives outside of the conflict zone. They re-registered for a pension but have not received an answer yet. These days Kyrylo is sick but still goes to school. They continue to teach Ukrainian, but there's inertia.

Svitlana has 3 children. Two are very small. She was ashamed to ask for anything because there are people who are in worse situations. However, she can't work in the confectionery store because she has the night shift and is afraid: what if there's a bombing and the children are alone? In the summer, they could go down to the basement but now there's barely enough time to dress the children. She doesn't have the money to take them out of the conflict zone. She could still manage with food from her parent's garden, but not everything is gone. Natalia has 2 grown children but there are still many problems.

The Donetsk volunteer group "Responsible Citizens" brings her the bare necessities: food packages of cabbage, potatoes, beets, buckwheat and oil as well as diapers and medicine. The food has to last for weeks. Natalia's mother has schizophrenia. Her pension has not come through since the summer. Medication is extremely expensive. There are no relatives outside the conflict zone. There is nothing in the fridge. There are many of these cases in Makiivka: residents with special needs - either single parents with small children, the old or sick who are taken care of by volunteers. In most cases, you have to wait a very long time for humanitarian aid from Donetsk in long lines and this takes money, which no one has.