The word ‘zone’ has always had a negative connotation, associating with the lack of freedom. Although the current situation added to ‘zone’ words ‘grey’, ‘buffer’ and ‘ATO’, its meaning remained the same. For those who live in villages and towns close to the boundary line, it is also a place of captivity. Perhaps, people really want to leave the ‘zone’, but they have nowhere to go, no money to settle in a new place, little chances to find a job. The most vulnerable group – kinds, old, lonely and ill people – becomes hostages of the ‘zone’. Though it is frightening, but at least they have their own home. Yes, there are shell fires, but they have already got used to them and learnt how to hide in a cellar within just a few seconds. There is no work, but they still have vegetable patches.
If only to survive the winter… The situation on the front line gets more tough with frosts. Transport connection becomes more complicated, problems with food, medicine and fuel delivery occur. The worst is with fuel, as for many people heating the house is a major problem. Some people collect firewood during the summer, others buy for a half of the winter. To the question “And what is next?” they just shrug.
Luhansk region, Komyshuvakha village, 10 km from a non-controlled territory. Olena Rudenko lives together with her mom. Both are of respectable age, living on two small pensions. It is difficult for them to prepare for winter in advance, and every day Olena has to go to a windbreak to collect some wood. An ill heart does not always allow the poor woman to go for the firewood, and there is always a risk of stumbling over explosive objects. That is why sometimes the building just stays cold. When receiving firewood from Caritas staff, Olena was almost crying, as several cubic meters of firewood is a real salvation for her and her mom.
For the second winter in a row, the Pope Francis Initiative “Pope for Ukraine” supports the financial project of Caritas Ukraine on distribution of fuel to people in need from the war zone. During the autumn, people in villages were asking us if we would help them to warm this winter. It has been two months since fuel delivery started. Three local Caritas offices in Zaporizhya, Kramatorsk and Mariupol set to work to ensure that the whole boundary line is provided with fuel.
Mrs. Mariia from Andriivka village heats her house with some firewood and coal from her neighbours. Such small amount of fuel allows her to fire a stove only for the night to have at least a warm place to sleep. The woman is a disabled person of the first group; she is almost blind and deaf. The old lady has children in Mariupol, but their life is also complicated. Her son is severely disabled. This adult man is unable to work or serve himself and has to live with his sister and her family. Son and daughter visit their mom rarely and have no money to support her. Two tons of fuel briquettes under “Pope for Ukraine” Initiative, delivered by Caritas Mariupol, will allow Mrs. Mariia to heat her house till the end of cold weather.
Tetiana Mykolayivna from an old district of Andriivka, suffering from military operations even nowadays, faces a very difficult situation. The woman is a disabled person of the second group. She moves only with a walking frame or crutches, her pension is small and she has nobody to rely on. This is not the first time when Caritas Zaporizhzhya helps the woman. This winter, she needed fuel. All money is spent on medicine and food, and the woman cannot go to windbreakers near Avdiivka to collect firewood because of her poor health. Caritas Zaporizhzhya staff brought Mrs. Tetina four tons of fire briquettes and blessings from Pope Francis.
Teams of Caritas Mariupol, Kramatorsk and Zaporizhzhya rescued citizens of ‘zone’ last year, when Avdiivka was under heavy fire in the end of January. At the time, Caritas Mariupol, Kramatorsk and Zaporizhzhya staff worked in standby and provided people, whose houses had been left without heating, power and water with food, water, blankets, warm clothes, medicine and medical assistance. Supporting and helping each other, we got down to work again to provide warmth to families from the boundary line. We believe that our work warms hearts.