While accompanying a journalist from Deutsche Welle to Nowoselyzja, I finally get to know A. personally. So far we have known each other from telephone conversations and messages via messenger, A. is committed to helping internally displaced people in the village, in Novoselytsia there are currently around 500. In normal life she was a notary, 25 years of professional experience, now she is a volunteer and raises relief supplies , wherever she can. Among other things, she works for the aid organization Rokada. Her husband is a border policeman and has found work at one of the region’s border crossings. Up to now he has always picked up relief supplies from us when he drove home from his shift. “Home” is easy to spell, but in reality it’s not really a family home, I suppose, because what is a home for what the war language calls “dwitschi VPO,” “double displaced persons.” VPO is an acronym in Ukrainian that means “person resettled within the country”.
In 2014, A. left her hometown of Donetsk with her family, where the “Russian world” has moved in, and went to Kharkiv, in March 2022 she had to flee again. The fact that little Novoselytsia became their new place of residence was pure coincidence, which they owe to their cocker spaniel. Just before New Year’s Eve 2021, they bought a cute puppy, which, accompanied by an animal-loving truck driver, made the long journey of almost a thousand kilometers from the Chernivtsi region to Kharkiv and became the second darling of the family, which also owned a cat. A. sends me many pictures on the phone that illustrate the whole story. Photos from Kharkiv, the cheerful Bonja, with the full name Bonifatius, in the house, in the snow outside, with As’s daughter. The photos of an intact world in which everything seems to exist for a happy life. Until the “liberators”, on the orders of the Kremlin clique, launch a new campaign to destroy them.
For three months they lived in one house – twelve people, four dogs and two cats
On February 24th, says A., the dog’s previous owners called and offered to come. They have never met each other before. After initial hesitation, the family decided to head west. For three months they lived together in one house – twelve people, four dogs and two cats. Like a family, says A., we did everything together and became best friends. The bitch had eleven puppies at the next litter, A. sends cute photos of the little ones in a puppy bed. The bed literally overflows, the picture is delightful. How were all the puppies taken care of, I ask. We were a lot of helpers, A. laughs, we fed them baby food.
After three months of living together, when it became clear that returning to Kharkiv is not yet possible, they rented a house for themselves. They remain best friends with the dog owners, they even visited their relatives in Italy together, there are photos of that as well, which A. sends me as evidence. We continue to live like a family, just in different houses, says A., we help each other and celebrate together. A happy story that has no end.
I admire A’s strength, commitment and sober assessment of the situation. She communicates with the local administration, keeps lists and creates Google forums when there are relief supplies to be distributed again. She talks about “her people” and that most of them live in very simple circumstances, not all of them are as lucky and financially able as their families. A. gives me the impression that she is a support for many who do not have such inner strength. In a small town where there is not enough infrastructure and no permanent representation of the aid organizations, a person like you is all the more important. We already have another concrete project: A donation from the Dr. Gabriele Lederle Foundation for people with disabilities should benefit the needy internally displaced persons in Nowoselyzja. A. will be my helper and mediator in town.
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