“We know how it all started.” How they help the most defenseless residents of Donbass

/ Despite the proximity of the zone to hostilities, children in the DPR go to lessons, do their homework – just like their peers from the rest of Russia. And for this they are helped by volunteers. For concerns of teachers and students – in the report.

Return of the classic

In the classrooms and corridors of school #1 in Krasna Polyana, a village southwest of Ugledar, there is not a living space. A year ago, the nationalist “Aidar” battalion was housed in the building. Not for long – the Russian army unexpectedly struck from the Zaporizhia side and cut off the village from the part of Donbas controlled by Ukraine.

Aidar fighters flee. But they carry everything that is not nailed to the floor. The rest is smashed and broken. For nearly three weeks, teachers and technical staff of the school have been cleaning up the rubbish.

The canteen is particularly affected. They peel off the linoleum, scratch the walls with swear words, break the windows and even take away the children’s cups with dogs and bunnies, the pots, the enamel bowls.

Finding all of this is a daunting task in the warring Donbass. Therefore, the school asks for the help of volunteers – the “Russian Humanitarian Mission”, which has been working here since the first days of active hostilities.

“We brought 300 food packages to Krasna Polyana, each for a family of four,” says Yevgeny Fedyshev, leading logistics expert. “A special request was equipment for a canteen. Plates, pots, meat grinders, knives, forks, spoons. In a word, everything to feed dozens of children every day. And also school backpacks with notebooks, crayons, brushes, pens, pencils,” he adds.

As the children, unspoiled by toys, accept gifts from the hands of humanitarian workers, school director Valentina Vasilievna recalls:

“The population is Russian-speaking, it was very difficult for the children to learn Ukrainian, and at home they communicated in Russian. Not to mention what the school library was full of. Those works of the Russian classics that Kiev considered acceptable were translated into Mova. And most of the books just dropped out of the curriculum.”

Everything is different now. Classic literature is back. They also receive notebooks, stationery, sports equipment.

But for now there are not enough computers, multimedia boards and projectors.

Talk about what’s important

The small town of Zugres with a population of 18,000 in the eastern part of the DPR is only a few kilometers from the border with Rostov Oblast. However, it cannot be called occiput. Shells are flying here too, although less often than in Donetsk, Gorlovka or Yasinova.

Here they learn what war is on August 13, 2014. A Ukrainian Smurch MLRS hits the local beach, killing 19 people. Including Irina Protasova, a graduate of boarding school No. 31.

“I remember Ira very well”, says the director of the school, Tatiana Bellows. “An excellent student, a singer. And on that fateful day, I decided to go sunbathing with my husband and son. The whole family died. There are other victims among our graduates. Katya “Ugolskikh joined the militia in the spring of 2014, fought from Saur-Mogila. Misha Ambrosimov was killed by a sniper at the checkpoint near Ilovaisk. I feel very, very sorry for them,” she added.

Several Christmas trees have been planted in the yard of the boarding school for children with special needs. Each has a plaque with the name and surname of a citizen who died during the Great Patriotic War. Someday, Bellows is sure, the memory of the heroes of this war will also be honored here.

There are 78 students, from 5 to 15 years old. There is an individual approach to everyone. Teachers do everything possible so that children enter the incomprehensible and sometimes very dangerous world of adults as prepared as possible. And they don’t want to put up with the adjustments that the war made.

“Look, there’s not even a playground here,” says Natalia Khim, a volunteer and fighter from one of Donetsk’s communications and control battalions, who is visiting Zugres with humanitarian aid. “Our battalion took care of the school. Today we brought food, vegetables, medicine “We want to make a playground for the little ones. After that, we will level and refine the football field, put up the gate, paint everything,” she adds.

Many graduates need special trainers for full development. Those that are there are extremely worn. And no new ones can be obtained in the burning region. Many educational institutions in Donbas have similar problems.

“Adults are to blame”

According to the deputy of the People’s Council of the DPR Natalia Gubareva, there are difficulties with the transition of the local education system to Russian standards. There are also funding cuts. That is why many schools survive only with the help of those who are not indifferent.

But teachers are not lacking, fortunately. Most of them stayed with the children.

“Teachers are our heroes,” emphasizes Natalia. “In such circumstances, it is very scary to take responsibility for the life and health of students. It is no secret that the Ukrainian special services have started hunting for teachers who teach according to the “wrong” – according to Kiev – program. But they are fearless. They come and teach”, she adds.

They are often under fire. Children here also know how to behave at such times. Aurally, “arriving” is different from “departing”. They have never actually known the peaceful sky above their heads. And for that, as they say here, “adults are to blame”. The task of which is to return a fulfilling childhood to these boys and girls as soon as possible.

Translation: V. Sergeev

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