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The power of kindness. «Donbas and Civillians»: let love in your heart. The blog of Natalya Baryshpolskaya, head of the «No to Orphanhood!» program of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation


Vika, Tolik, Darynka and their adopted mother Olena are the heroes of the Donbas and Civilians photobook created by the Rinat Akhmetov Humanitarian Center. This unique edition is dedicated to the peaceful residents of Donbas, who suffered during the military conflict.


"Donbas and Civillians" is a chronicle of terrible events that are currently taking place in the center of Europe. These are the stories about the elderly people who live in the ruins of the frontline zone. These are the stories about the children who received severe injuries and fought for life, when doctors did not believe in a miracle. These are the stories about the little heroes that triumphed over death. These are the stories about overcoming pain and desperation, undergoing rehabilitation — as they began to walk again, talk and smile. These are the stories about the boys and girls who experienced more grief than some adults, but did not break down, demonstrating courage and steadfastness. "Donbas and Civilians" is also about kindness and love, about mercy in spite of a ruthless war. It is about those who are ready to give a helping hand.


One of the 11 stories included in the book is about a large family of Yakovlev-Chygryn from Donetsk. It began long before the war, when Olena adopted the first child, Daryna. The girl began to ask Mom to adopt a brother or sister from the orphanage, and then they asked for help the "No to Orphanhood!"program. Soon there were two more children in the family, siblings Vika and Tolik. Their mother died, and their father subjected the kids to sophisticated tortures, beating them to unconscious state. When he was drunk, he worked on daughter' teeth with a file. Due to the fact that the kids were always starving, the girl ate bananas without peeling them, to somehow get enough food.


Once they were adopted by a loving family and surrounded by care, the children changed in a noticeable way. But the happiness was short-lived, since fighting began in Donetsk. The children left their home with their mother, bringing only a suitcase of summer clothes.


For two years the family with many children was constantly moving from place to place, the children were tired of changing cities and schools, they began to get sick, aggression appeared.


Daryna had a serious conflict in one of the schools, the girl even began to think about suicide. Then her mother appealed to the Humanitarian Center, asking for help from psychologists who received training on the course of the "Trauma of War" program.


Vika also faced ill-treatment of children. Because of her congenital strabismus, her peers offended and teased her. Vika was anxious about this. It was necessary to carry out several surgeries. The Rinat Akhmetov Foundation helped with the first one when the family still lived in Donetsk, and the second one was performed in Kyiv. As a result, it was possible to restore vision, and most importantly, the life of the girl has radically changed.


Olena, their mother, brings up three children alone, the Rinat Akhmetov Humanitarian Center helped the family with the summer vacation. Vika, Tolik and Daryna are regular participants of the "Peaceful summer for Donbas Children" project. Thanks to this project, thousands of boys and girls who saw the horrors of the war with their own eyes could recover, undergo rehabilitation and overcome psychological trauma and fears. It is still very difficult for Tolik to deal with one of them: the boy is afraid to leave his mother. He worries that he will not be taken from the camp and will be sent back to the orphanage.


Children from the Yakovlev-Chygryn family became honorable guests of the "Donbas andCivilians" event, during which the photobook was presented. Just like other heroes of the book, the children received gifts: someone received a vacation certificate, someone received a certificate for another rehabilitation course.


The Rinat Akhmetov Humanitarian Center continues to support the residents of Donbas and help children affected by the armed conflict. Maybe for some people the phrase "children is our future" sounds old-fashioned, but by helping little citizens of the country, adults themselves become more humane, less strict and indifferent to "someone's" grief. And the "Donbas and Civilians" book is one of the proofs of that.