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Two Stories

15 March 2018

War has continued for nearly four years in Ukraine. Civilians who live close to the front line suffer the most. A couple of stories about people trying to manage, to live their lives.
In Luhanske village, just 15 km from the well-known Debaltseve, shell fragments damaged three houses on 23 February 2018. A part of the village lost electricity. Power lines were cut and a power converter damaged. Nikolay is a resident of Luhanske, who lives close to the conflict are with his wife. “Have you ever thought about leaving?” I ask. He responds, “My wife and I have nothing but this house. If we leave, our lives end.” They are both pensioners and their pensions are just enough to pay for utilities and medicine. They can barely afford to buy bread, butter, sugar. “We would love to see an end to this war, but we don’t.” Looking in his eyes I see fatigue, despair, sadness. He and his wife worked their entire lives at a power plant. Now in their late sixties, all they want is a quiet life, to watch their grandkids grow, spend the evening chatting with their neighbors.
Then there is Mariinka, a city on the frontline close to the western side of Donetsk. Olga is 77-years old. “We haven’t had gas since 2014. A shell explosion damaged the pipeline. So I have to use my oil-heater to warm up, which I hardly use because my pension is too small to pay the bills. They cut off the electricity one time; I just forgot to pay. Ten days with no power, no heat. You know, I survived World War II, but this is much worse.” Olga spends most of her pension just covering the bills. The local administration won’t provide a subsidy for her this year, so she has had to sell furniture to buy some food. No joy, no happy moments, just hope for the future.

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