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Seeking legal aid was the first step to healing

Publication date: October 10, 2023

Support, a kind word and the opportunity to exercise her right to medical care. The pensioner received all this when she contacted the NGO “Agency for Democratic Development of Donbas”.

Svitlana*, 67, is an internally displaced person from the Luhansk region. The woman left her native Lysychansk when hostilities broke out in the city.

The war and the move to the safer Zaporizhzhia were not easy for Svitlana. Stress and psycho-emotional stress exacerbated her health problems. In particular, due to numbness in her feet and severe joint pain, she could not move freely and walked only with assistance. She also began to experience retinal detachment.

It was in this state that Svitlana turned to the Sloviansk-based (Donetsk oblast) NGO Agency for the Democratic Development of Donbas, whose lawyers have been providing legal aid in Zaporizhzhia and the region since the beginning of the full-scale war. She turned to them as fellow countrymen because she didn’t know where to seek support.

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

– We met Svitlana, listened to her story and referred her to the city branch of one of the international medical organizations that provides free services to IDPs. There, the woman successfully underwent a course of massage, which helped her relieve muscle spasms and reduce the effects of stress and chronic fatigue, says Tetiana Pliasunova, a lawyer with the organization.  

After this rehabilitation course, Svitlana visited the Agency for Democratic Development of Donbas again, thanked us, and said she felt much better, became more active, and walked independently. Her psycho-emotional state had stabilized because, before that, she was very depressed by helplessness and dependence on outside help. And now, as she admitted to the lawyer, she has a desire to live and go out. And now, the woman has the strength to continue to take care of her health and slowly build a new life in the city that sheltered her from the war.

* 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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