Life for the sake of granddaughter

Dasha loves her grandfather and she tries to help him to manage the household, as now she is the only woman in their family of two people. Sometimes their neighbour Lyuba comes to help them. Dasha is eight years old and she goes to the second grade. She and her grandfather live in the village of Kamenka, a few kilometres from where the fighting is.

Daily duties

Victor's morning starts at 4 am when he goes to the dairy farm where he works. Then he returns home to wake Dasha up, feeds his own livestock and runs back to work. Some rest after housework and he is ready to go to sleep, because tomorrow he has to get up early. With support of European Union and People in Need, Victor purchased four pigs, animal feed for them, and a walk-behind tractor. Before the war, they owned bulls, cows and rabbits. "We sold everything and I moved my family far away in the summer of 2014. I lived alternately here and there", Victor shares, and tells that just after they had left, a shell fell in the yard. The blast wave broke the windows, and the outbuildings were damaged very hard. "A shell fell just under the chestnut, where the cows used to stay," Victor tells.

  photo Iva Zimova for People in Need


Efforts to provide family

The final decision to return was the death of Victor's wife, who was ill for the last few years. He took away his granddaughter Dasha, whose mother had died long ago and returned to Kamenka. The youngest daughter did not return because of her college studies. "She will receive a scholarship. I told her that I cannot help. We are surviving here with 1000-2000 hryvnia per month and food aid ", Viktor tells. Victor receives 10 hryvnia for milking one cow. Now there are about 12 cows but the owner wants Viktor to perform other tasks for the same wage. "I’m going to leave the farm. My talent is in my hands, and it is not appreciated enough", Viktor shows his swollen from milking hands. "Unfortunately, I cannot leave Dasha alone for a long time to go to the market to sell my products. So for now it is all for our own consumption. In spring I will look for markets to sell my goods", Victor says and adds that now a lot of goats are beginning to produce offspring.

  photo Iva Zimova for People in Need


Beloved granddaughter

Victor is trying to replace all the missing people for Dasha so she has a regular childhood. "Yesterday she wrote me a note with a menu before the school: semolina pudding, boiled potatoes and pilaf", Victor shows pans with each dish. "Yesterday I stood all day at the stove", Victor shares, glancing at the clock, because a school bus is going to bring his granddaughter back soon. There are only five students in Dasha’s class and thirty in the whole school. It is the only school for a handful of frontline villages around. Dasha loves to play with her dolls and to do crafts after school when her grandfather is busy at work. "She wants to become a photographer. Sometimes she takes my old phone and starts to shoot everything around", Viktor smiles.

Childhood under sound of shooting

It seems that Dasha got used to the current situation around her. Dasha is very brave girl, who remembers active hostilities of two years ago. Since then from time to time shells are falling into someone's yard. Residents of Kamenka hear the shelling almost every day. "We have a wooden house, it just topped with bricks. So even if it fires far away, our house shakes", Victor explains. Occasionally they have to go down to the basement. Last time it was 3 months ago. "It's so cold there, that sometimes you think whatever will be - will be", Viktor tells. "With the outbreak of war and death of my wife I just stopped functioning, but I have to take care of my granddaughter", Victor says and hopes that there will not be exacerbation of the conflict because of which all this horror can happen again.

 photo Iva Zimova for People in Need