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Not every settlement in Donetsk region could boast of the number of enterprises that previously worked in Andriivka. An elevator, an oil tank farm, a railroad, two vehicle fleets, a wood yard and a mineral fertilizer warehouse, two granite quarries, animal husbandry and agricultural farming communities, a post office, an ambulant clinic, a school, two kindergartens and a club have provided jobs not only to Andriivka residents but also to residents of neighboring Kamianka, Myrnyi and Anadol.

REFERENCE: Andriivka is an urban-type settlement that is part of Andriivka village council of Volnovakha District. The village council is administratively subordinated to villages of Bakhchovyk, Druzhne and Obilne. The village was founded in 1882, until 1945 it was called Karan. According to the resolution of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, on December 11, 2014, it was transferred from Telmanovo district to Volnovakha district. Population – 3.000 inhabitants, including children. Almost a third are pensioners.

All this was before the war. Now, Andriivka despite its large size (almost 20 square kilometers), is little different from its neighbors – the war has damaged the infrastructure of a well-to-do settlement. The youth left the settlement and enterprises stopped their work. Only budget organizations work. Andriivka has become a regular recipient of numerous charitable programs from UNDP, UNISEF, USAID, Caritas, etc.

If you want to know how the settlement lives – go to school

HROMADA Skhid editorial received several calls from Andriivka. People complained about bad roads, problems with heating and a settlement head that was not concerned with household issues.

Our trip took place in December, and winter for any village is a time of silence, so at first glance the village seemed deserted. To understand how heavily populated the settlement is, it is enough to visit the school where you understand: so many children are an excellent demographic rate. There are almost 230 students – a lot of as for the present time. However, these children are not only from Andriivka, but also from neighboring villages. Every day, a school bus brings them to the school and drives them home. Although the school is rather old, (built in the 1940s), it is warm and cozy. It can be seen that overhaul was done a long time ago, but there is a new roof, plastic windows and modern equipment.

The school has art and sports clubs, and there is an activity room donated by Caritas Mariupol. On the walls of the school corridors, except for various wallpapers, stands with children’s works and photo galleries of honors students, there are places of glory of the settlement celebrities: Anastasiia Holienieva, a multiple champion of Ukraine and athlete, and Oleksandr Khotsianivskyi, a champion of Europe and Ukraine on the free wrestling.

Preschool children in the village are less than schoolchildren. There are 106 of them going to the kindergarten, which now is the only in the village. The building of the second former kindergarten now has two libraries, a village council with all services, a free wrestling group, a gym and an assembly hall, where the local choir rehearsals and all local events are held. There are a lot of kids in summer, a playground is nearby. This place is considered an administrative center.

Own ambulant clinic is another reason that the village is not so bad. There are no working rural health post in most villages of the “gray” zone, saying nothing of a hospital. Andriivka ambulant clinic has a family doctor and three nurses. The medicines needed for the ambulant clinic are delivered centrally and on time, employees say. There are also pharmacy kiosks. Volnovakha district hospital and ambulance that come to Andriivka serve emergency cases. Sometimes you have to wait more than an hour, but it comes anyway. Caritas Mariupol doctors also work in the village and there is a care program for elderly people.

Things are worse for those who live in the surrounding villages – for Bakhchovyk residents the road to the ambulant clinic or to village council becomes a quest. If the weather is bad, then you cannot get off the road.

In the dark with a flashlight in the hands. Will there be light?

Andriivka residents complain that in recent years it has become dangerous to walk the streets in the village, especially in the evening. Incidents of looting and foray increased in abandoned homes.

The street lighting issue of 32 streets in the village has been actual since 2017. According to Olexandr Baikalov, a head of the public utility of the village council (we did not manage to find the village head at the workplace, he is on medical leave), 15 street lamps have been posed in Andriivka this year and 100 should appear.

“120 street lamps will be enough for the village,” Baikalov says. – Previously we had street lamps at every intersection; gradually we will do everything, if we had funding. Two years ago, we built up a public utility company, where four people are working. We not only clean the streets, cut down old trees, clean up fly tipping, we also concern with lighting and scavenge.

Garbage disposal constantly worries rural people. Already 527 households have concluded a contract for the provision of services, but two years ago, only 100 families paid for garbage disposal. The cost of the service is 18 UAH per month per person. The budget of the village council is small, so they are going to make money by garbage sorting – negotiations are currently underway with the receiving point for recyclable materials.

Andriivka is the first settlement among we have visited, where among many indifferent and seemingly active people we could not find any community that would apply for grant projects for the improvement of public space. In many villages, much smaller than Andriivka, residents have been illuminating the streets for several years, also implementing waste disposal, and modernizing parks through grants. Namely, there is some work for international assistants – to tell Andriivka residents about the practicability of self-organization, to teach, to support.

The local authorities cannot cope with the mission to inspire people to cooperate.

– Caritas Mariupol made a well, put filters – we have problems with drinking water in the village. Only village council, kindergarten and three people from the neighboring houses came to the cleaning of the territory, – a chief of the public utility service says. – And everyone will take water for free! We plant trees, put benches – they are destroyed, and we put them again. How to explain to people that they cannot do this? So judge for yourself…

As for the public order maintenance, Olexandr Vit, a deputy head of the department of preventive activity of policy in Donetsk region, reported to HROMADA Skhid, there is even “own” police in Andriivka. The nearest police station is located in Myrnyi for 9 kilometers away from Andriivka, but law enforcement officers live in the village.

– At the present moment, police officers live in Andriivka, they have been placed in an office for serving citizens and they are fully interacting with local authorities. The police officers serve about 50-60 calls a month in eight settlements, make 15-25 administrative materials and solve 1-2 crimes, -Vit said.

Doors close, the next station is Karan

Karan railway station is another advantage of Andriivka over its neighbors. It is possible to reach Volnovakha and Mariupol by electric train (Andriivka residents go mostly there). Most of the population works at factories in Mariupol, at railways and in railroad car shed of both cities. Electric train route timetable allows you to get to work and from work without delay, whether it is day or night shift. A ticket price to Volnovakha is 9 UAH, 12 UAH to Mariupol. It seems to be impossible to use a bus. As local people say, it is not possible to elbow into a single track to Mariupol. It goes to other villages from Andriivka and is always crowded. Fare is 25 UAH.

For some time the settlement was rumored that railway station will be closed. But this was not confirmed. The electric train will go the set rout timetable, and its route has even been extended to Vuhledar. But it is still unknown whether Mariupol trains to Lviv and Kyiv will stop at Karan railway station.

Briquetting line: recovery shoots

If you do not take into account the owners of grocery stores, there are practically no those who want to start a business and risk their money until the war is over in Andriivka. The only company that started operating in the village is the briquetting line. Two entrepreneurs have producing for two year in a row fuel briquettes from straw and seed waste, gradually buying the enterprise from its former owner. This production is an alternative to expensive coal and firewood.

To stock up on firewood for the winter now costs 900 UAH per 1 m3. Coal at the price of 4 500 UAH per tonne, and anthracite is at a sky-high price of 7 500 UAH. Olexandr Baikalov says that they are searching in the village council those who agree to buy coal cheaper: at the price of 3 100 UAH. It is on condition if we find at least 20 people. But so far, there are no so many, the authorities in Andriivka are not very trusted as we understand.


Problem solving is a matter of time

After Andriivka has transferred to Volnovakha district, residents had problems with the registration of documents, because all the archives left in Telmanovo.

– Previously, we had 15 village councils in the district, and 44 were in Volnovakha district. Now we have joined them. It is obvious that the load has increased. Many services have a huge queue. The village council has a registration office where you can renew the documents and get new ones, but it will take up to three months, and often – by court decision. Of course, all of this are difficulties. But who does not have them now? – Tetiana Vasylenko, a secretary of Andriivka village council, says.

There is also a lack of funding from the district. Own income is small – 28 private shops and one public utility company are hardly able to fill the village treasury. Land tax is not paid either by private business or by homeowners because of war, and this is also a significant disadvantage in the settlement budget. Roof of the kindergarten and purchased water filters were repaired for budget money this year, strengthening the foundation of the kindergarten and repairing the well are planned for the next year. There is nowhere to take money for the repair of roads and other significant projects.

Andriivka is now «fighting» for the right of becoming the center of a future united territorial community, which according to the plan is to be located in neighboring Myrnyi. Andriivka residents disagree with this and believe that there are strong arguments for reviewing this decision: there are more residents in their settlement; there is a school, a kindergarten and a hospital. Another absolute side in favor of Andriivka are the railway and enterprises that will sooner or later make money.

Whatever it is, while there are people – there is a hope. Changing for the better is a matter of time and the realization that everything depends on the villagers themselves. The main thing is to want some changes and strive for it. As we know, miracles can happen only in fairy tales.

Olena SVITLA/Gromada Skhid No. 8, 2019