There are veterans in the Smolensk region who live without gas stoves, fridges and TV. In some flats of the veterans even floors are collapsing. A group of enthusiasts bought presents and went to visit the veterans and help them somehow.
The Smolensk region, village Monastyrschino, 450 km from Moscow.
This is Lyubov Dmitrievna and her story: “My brother was hanging behind the window for a whole week and I saw it each morning. Mother was begging on her knees to take him off but was only hit by a club”.
Lyubov Dmitrievna is a widow of the war veteran, she lives alone in her little house: old photos in frames are on the walls, plain and cosy. She likes to watch TV series but her TV set has broken. It was the best friend in her loneliness.
“We didn’t live at all, we saw only cold and hunger, nothing but them!”
The volunteers presented a new TV set to the elderly woman. She was touched and looked even younger at once, was crying with joy and such attention to her. But the volunteers had 8 addresses more ahead.
Praskoviya Sergeevna was the next, she’s going to turn 90 in October. Her husband was a front-line soldier who died after the legs amputation, he had been serving for 16 years, 1940-1956.
The guys presented her two sets of products and a new TV set and flowers, of course.
The volunteers are listening to stories about the war with shudder.
Vasily Nikolaevich is a machine gunner, has been living with his wife for 60 years already. They wanted a washing machine and they got it. Soon the veteran will have to obtain a certificate for a new flat, because they have no necessary facilities now. Daughter takes care of two lying elderly parents. The volunteers got the information that the local authorities didn’t want to give the certificate to the veteran but when the information reached Moscow they immediately changed their mind…
Tamara Nikitichna was found in her garden. She is 86. It is sad to see the house where tries to survive the lonely elderly woman: no water, no stove. However Tamara Nikitichna got a certificate for a new flat and her children bought a house in Smolensk though they disburse the funds under the loan from the granny’s pension. She says that the situation of her children is not easy and she has to help. It seems they come here only for her pension..
Tamara Nikitichna used to wash linen in cold water in the war time …
Her husband, a front line soldier, died 12 years ago.
She goes to a water pump dragging a pail along the ground. Lonely veterans are not trendy nowadays…
The granny got products and a used TV set. She also wanted valenki because it was cold in rubber boots.
The volunteers decided to help her regularly by sending packages and getting information of her life. A social worker visits veterans for 360 rubles ($12) a month (why not for free?), so the volunteers covered three months of such service for the granny.
Attention is often more valuable than any presents, flowers etc., loneliness is a hard trial for any person…
Galina Nikolaevna lives with a disabled son, she also asked for a washing machine. She’s a widow and a former nurse.
“Germans came and executed everyone by shooting and hanging.. It was so scary, I will never forget all these gallows!”
Galina Nikolaevna cried with joy and such an unexpected visit and attention. She kept asking “Who’s the chief? Whom should I thank?” The volunteers were crying themselves…
Time to move further
Nina Nikolaevna lives alone, she is a widow aged 86. “What should I do for a present?” – she asked. Was really surprised that she got it for free.
“I was in many places, was in trenches.. Mother died, I was growing with a step-mother”.
Every house is another story about the war and survival, about fear, privation, grief. But grief comes in peaceful time too, three years ago son of Nina Nikolaevna sank. Grief of mother will never be cured by time…
She got a TV set, the most precious present for a lonely person.
Nina Nikolaevna is visited by a social worker who brings food and water from a well. Her house is clean and cosy.
Larisa Fedorovna, a widow. She worked for 30 years in a library and 10 years at school. Husband – front-line soldier, disabled person of group I, she took care of him for 5 years, carried him, he had come from the war without his left shoulder, then his legs became paralyzed and he soon he died.
“I will never go to ask for anything. I am not a person of that kind. I have a house, a place to live in, let those who have no houses get it instead of me”.
She refused to get food, took only a newspaper. “Thank you, guys!”
Lyubov Petrovna is also a widow of a veteran. She worked in a kolkhoz for 46 years, had been living with her husband for 30 years. Her husband told that when he was encircled he boiled belts and ate them till the liberation…
Lyubov Petrovna has 5 children, one daughter died, her grandson served in Chechnya, returned but sank in a lake. She lives with two sons, one of them is an alcoholic, the second one will never refuse alcohol too. Both of them do not work and live on granny’s pension that is almost fully spent on alcohol. That’s the reality of a Russian village – no work, no morals. Their house looks like being dated the 19th century.
She misses her daughter who died very much. She would put things right in the house… The woman got a gas stove, a fridge and food as presents from the volunteers and also was happy to be given new bed-clothes.
Mikhail Alexandrovich was celebrating the 55th anniversary of coupledom with his wife Zoya Tikhonovna.
The volunteers were warmly welcomed and offered to eat. They had many tasty things on the table: patties, jellied minced meat, cold vodka… Like in a fairy tale!
He was called up to the front in 1944, then was staying in a Minsk hospital after being wounded.
“Germans set fire to hay to burn all the village down… They thought the wind would spread the fire along the houses. Granddad took an icon and went to the field for a prayer. The wind dropped and the hay burnt like a candle..”
Check for the presents.
Location: the Smolensk region