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A new house, mattress and ramp, or A story about the power of mutual support

Publication date: December 3, 2023

This story from the NGO “Agency for Democratic Development of Donbas” is an example of humanity and quick humanitarian response to the needs of internally displaced people who have lost their homes, familiar meanings, and even their health due to the war. Thanks to the organization’s volunteers and activists, a married couple of pensioners from the Donetsk oblast have found a new home, friends and an opportunity to recover from a serious illness.

The Pavliuks couple* Platon Serhiiovych and Oksana Petrivna, moved from the occupied territories to Zaporizhzhya in 2022. Due to the stress, the husband suffered two strokes and was bedridden. He could only get around in a wheelchair. Local volunteers helped the family settle in one of the dormitories in Zaporizhzhia that the city had made available for internally displaced persons. This gave the pensioners relative peace and a roof over their heads.

However, the conditions in which the Pavliuks lived were difficult for them as elderly and sick people. The seventh floor of the dormitory, a broken elevator, and a wheelchair made it impossible for Platon Serhiiovych to go outside and get some fresh air. That’s why his “walks” were limited to his room, sometimes to the dormitory corridor.

Oksana Petrivna was extremely tired. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, she cared for her husband, cleaned, cooked, and did laundry by hand. She also slept severely at night. In fact, so did Platon Serhiiovych. He had to sleep on a regular bed, which was highly uncomfortable for a person after a stroke, causing additional pain, suffering and, as a result, sleepless nights for both of them.

This story was told by Oksana Petrivna to the employees of the NGO “Agency for Democratic Development of Donbas”. The woman came here on the advice of her neighbor, who had seen the situation of the displaced pensioners and sincerely sympathized with them.

First, the organisation found an international organization that helped with an anti-decubitus mattress. This has already improved both the moral and physical condition of the couple: Platon Serhiiovych is in less pain, and his nights are calmer.

Tetiana Pliasunova, lawyer of NGO “Agency for Democratic Development of Donbas”.

– But we felt that we could no longer leave these people unattended. For four long months, we searched for a more comfortable place for the Pavliuks family to live. And finally! A house in a village with a pharmacy, a shop, transportation – almost everything they needed. And the local authorities we approached helped us build a homemade ramp so that the man could leave the house in a wheelchair,” says Tatiana Pliasunova, a lawyer with the organization.

Now, walks outside have become integral to the Pavliuk family’s life. The family also made new friends: a cat and then a dog came into their yard.

– It is so important to be helpful to people and to feel that we have done something to improve their mood, everyday life and morale, Tatiana Pliasunova modestly admits.

We would like to add that this story is not only about a new house, a mattress and a ramp but, above all, about faith in people and the incredible power of mutual support.

* Name has been changed for ethical reasons.

The material was created with the support of the international charity platform GlobalGiving and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. The publication’s content is solely the responsibility of the Legal Development Network.

P. S. More relevant information on legal and humanitarian issues – is in the special section #StandWithUkraine. It accumulates materials that may be useful to those who suffer, whose rights are violated as a result of the war between russia and Ukraine.

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