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For the fourth year in the “grey zone”: how do retirees survive



The Shatovs is one of the thousands of families from Donbas assisted by the Rinat Akhmetov Center. Tetiana Oleksiivna and Vitalii Vasylovych have lived in the settlement of Lebedynske for more than 35 years. The spouses have been together ever since the student days, they both are geologists by profession. For many years they were engaged in searches for oil and gas. They lived in the Urals, Chukotka and Sakhalin, where in 1981 their son was born. The baby was diagnosed with heart murmurs due to which doctors recommended to change the climate. The family decided to move to the Donetsk Region, closer to their parents. So they settled down in Lebedynske. Tetiana Oleksiivna brought up her son, and Vitalii Vasylovych worked as Chief Water-supply Engineer in the collective farm. In the 90s, when the collective farm collapsed, the family decided to start their own business. They risked to take a loan to buy technical equipment and established their own farm enterprise.

The family lived in peace and balance and they were happy that they made the right choice by moving to Donbas, as their son grew up healthy thanks to marine climate.

Everything changed with the onset of armed hostilities. Constant stresses could not but affect the health of the retirees – heart attacks became more frequent, hypertension disturbed. Therefore, it was a real torture for the elderly couple to descend into the basement every time the bombardment began. But if they did not hide, they would no longer be alive. In June 2015, after coming out of hiding place, they found that two shells had hit their plot. The house was damaged by shell splinters, windows fell out, and three sheds and a garage were destroyed.

At that time, the Shatovs’ grandson was about to born. Because of the terrible events, the son decided to leave his home and Lebedynske in order not to endanger his wife and baby. Now the son's family is taking shelter in the city small flat, and Tetiana Oleksiivna and Vitalii Vasylovych are grieving that they stayed alone and waiting for the time when the whole family will be able to reunite.

They live on pension, as almost nothing remains of their farm. They survive thanks to the food packages from the Humanitarian Center. Next week, teams of mobile delivery will arrive to Lebedynske again. In April, they will deliver food to 46 villages and settlements of the “grey zone. About 20,000 survival kits will be issued.

Since 2014, the Rinat Akhmetov Humanitarian Center has been helping civilians who live in the zone of military conflict in Donbas. During this time, more than a million people were saved. More than 12 million food packages were issued.