Tag Archives: people

A Man from Donbass

I hired a taxi to deliver our targeted assistance - parcels and clothing. We were driving along Shevchenko street when a traffic cop ordered the cabman to stop the car. The official asked the taxidriver whether he was from Lugansk and requested to show his documents.
As I did not pay attention to the number plate of the taxi, I was very surprised. I started talking to the taxist.
Yes, he and his family arrived in Kharkiv in November. His children are fully grown; they moved here from Donetsk. They are looking for a job. He moonlights as a cab driver. He said he had never thought his life could change so quickly.
They had to move in a hurry. No suitcase packed, all they took were the documents. His family had two apartments in Lugansk and he was a businessman. He left in Lugansk lots of high-value goods in a warehouse…
Many of his friends stayed there. They just couldn’t quit the businesses and spare houses they’ve lived for years. He and his family took a chance and they are trying to get here.
He didn’t tried to get in touch with volunteers. He said he didn’t know any volunteer stations in Kharkov. I tried to invite him, but he got embarrassed and refused. I didn’t not insist, but informed him where our center was.
— What is the public mood in Donbass?
— You know, 10% percent are – … he gestures his finger against his temple. – Those who want peace and keep silence because of fear make 60%, and the rest is for the United Ukraine. This is our country and what do they do to us?!
He said that the police officers, doctors and teachers were first to have betrayed the Country …
— We are neither beggars nor homeless. We have some money to meet ends meet in Kharkov. It’s a big deal to rent an apartment here, but we are doing our best, we don’t give up. Give support and assistance to those who desperately need it., – he said. –  You see, people’s indifference or worse – their hatred – is the worst thing here for us.
You know what was the worst thing for me?
I looked in the rearview mirror and saw his eyes. Tired, sad and hopeless. He kept on talking to me but I could not breathe.
I was struck with shame because of this Ukrainian man with silver hair from Donbass.

Julia Pimenova, Kharkov Station volunteer

Translated by Tanya Pochtiennykh