Donezk Region, Ukraine,2017
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In 2014 villages, towns and sections of cities were destroyed near the front line in Lugansk People's Republic (LNR) and Donetsk People's Republic (DNR). Early on, a lot of people were forced to stay for lack of money because the banks had disappeared overnight. One's savings were gone, and the banks were closed. Starting from what one would consider a normal life imagine waking up without any access to your own savings. Imagine if the building you worked in was shelled and your workplace was destroyed overnight. Many homes and apartments were shelled and are still shelled on an ongoing basis. Imagine in one brief moment everything that can be taken for granted is gone. Normal families raising children and working to provide college educations for them had their lives ripped out from under them. Retirees could no longer count on their pension. Insulin and other medications for chronic illnesses were no longer available.
The following quote is from 2014 when Ukraine's nationalist Maidan uprising and subsequent coup were almost over. It summarizes the despair well. It epitomizes the need for some form of normality, just to be able to say one's loved one's life matters, and that you too are a human being:
"You cannot leave everything: your work, your house, the proof you had a life"you can't throw it all away. People hang on by the skin of their teeth. After all that has happened, they hope for any miracle." "A Letter from Kiev.
From 2014 until today at the frontlines and in the gray zone (i.e. the neutral zone) between LNR, DNR and the Ukrainian army; these are the stressors families are going through on a daily basis. Like many people that have written a lot about the war in Donbass, I've written about the men and women that gave up everything to volunteer and defend the people in Donbass from being relocated, run through filtration (i.e. concentration) camps, tortured, and killed. All of this because the people wouldn't support an aberrant political ideology commonly called nazism.
From 2014 onward there have been groups of people volunteering in LNR and DNR, and working daily miracles to patch up other people's lives, giving them enough hope to hold on. For a soldier that has been in the trenches for a month the heroes are the men and women that jump into harm's way to get the electricity back on and the water running, so that they and their families can take a hot shower or sleep in a warm room once in a while.
The electrical workers are heroes that provide a degree of normalcy to the soldiers and civilians near the front line towns and villages. They keep the power on for small businesses, so they can stay open, so even people in small villages can buy bread and other necessities. In towns and villages across LNR, electrical workers volunteer to get the power back on during the worst weather. Near the front lines, many electrical workers have been shot by the Kiev Ukrainian army.
Doctors, nurses, and ambulance drivers go elbow deep into the day's worst tragedies. In 2014, they were not getting paid for going to the front lines to pick up and treat soldiers and civilians. There was no one to pay them for quite a while. The government in LNR and DNR had to form to provide social services. LNR boasts one of the best hospitals that came out of the Soviet system for both lung and cancer treatment. Because of the many coal mines, lung disease research and treatment remains a priority. Lugansk Republican Hospital has also been a leader in cancer studies and treatment. The reason is obvious, since the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident and subsequent meltdown. This could be very important as LNR develops over the next few years and the peace process moves forward.
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