“It is good that now I can wash my daughter’s hair,” says Valerii after the distribution of provisions in Donetsk. The war is just a few tram stops from here

Valerii with his daughter Victoria after the distribution of hygiene kits. (Photo: Maria Lozan)

It is a sunny morning in Donetsk. People are heading to work or just chatting on the corner, trolleybuses are passing by and everything seems like any other weekday in eastern Ukraine. But the shelling throughout last night reminds everyone that the conflict between the Ukrainian army and the rebels is still going on and has its frontline on the outskirts of the once economic hub of Donbass which lies in the non-government controlled areas of Ukraine.

People are going by tram out of distribution of hygiene kits. (Photo: Maria Lozan)

For people living just a few tram stops from the city centre the sound of war is even closer. Very often it is not just the sound. Valerii (36) has lived alone with his daughter Victoria (8) in a flat in the Kirovski district of Donetsk since the conflict began. “I am happy that we survived because a shell fell on our house. Even now we can hear loud shelling every night,” says Valerii.

I hope the mine will open again

Like all people living here he is used to the terrible sound of bombing which is not limited to daytime. However the war in their backyard also brought other unwanted consequences to his life. “I lost my job long time ago. Next week they will hopefully open the mine again and I will definitely apply for work there,” explains Valerii and adds that relatives and family helped him a great deal during the conflict.

“I am happy that we survived because a shell fell on our house. Even now we can hear loud shelling every night,”

Twice Valerii received Russian humanitarian aid. “I came to the municipality and said that we are alone and I have no wife. So they gave me some goods,” he remembers. Later he realized that also People in Need aid funded by European Commission Humanitarian Aid & Civil Protection department (ECHO) was distributed in his area. “I went to the administration because I needed some papers. They were asking me where I work and said that I can receive humanitarian aid. I heard about it also on TV,” he says.

Distribution of hygiene kits in Kirovsky distrist of Donetsk. (Photo: Petr Stefan)

After being checked by the People in Need team his name appeared on the distribution list and today he went to the distribution point at the tram terminal station in the centre of the Kirovsky district. People in Need and ECHO are distributing hygiene kits for more than 300 adults and children here. “For me this help means a lot, it will be easier for us,” he states.

Food, hygiene and peace

After a while he continues with sadness in his voice. “I will not use too much of the content for myself but for my daughter. It is expensive to have a child. So for example it is good that there is shampoo inside so I can wash her hair,” says Valerii stroking his daughter’s hair. It is evident that these two people give each other hope and this helps them survive the war which has lasted for over two years now.

Valerii and Victoria are living alone in Donetsk for whole conflict. (Photo: Maria Lozan)

“I go to school, third class. I am already big,” says Victoria suddenly and wants to demonstrate to us that she is almost independent. “I have more wishes than just one. I wish to have enough food, hygiene products, medication and clothes. And of course I wish everyone would live in peace,” says Valerii and he knows that his last wish will not come true any time soon. Tonight he will hear the noise of the escalating conflict again coming through his window.

Petr Stefan, People in Need Communication Officer @petstf