«Whatever they say about silence, but people not only felt it, they even began to plan their lives in advance. They talked about repairs, new clothes for spring. Previously, it was not interesting to them, now is not the time. They even became more cheerful… and here is the exacerbation again!» – with these words the conversation with our new friends from Proliska-Maiorsk on the way to Bakhmutka began. Administratively, the village belongs to Svitlodar community of Donetsk region, but in fact, the transfer of powers from Bakhmut district to amalgamated territorial community has not yet taken place, there is a possibility that there will be civil-military administrations. That is, who currently runs is still unclear.
Each of us went to the frontline village with his/her mission. «Proliska» volunteers carried a ladder for roof repairs and stationary for the center, which local activists establish to solve the problems of Bakhmut residents. Our goal was to unite Bakhmutka with the neighboring villages, because GROMADA Skhid had not come here before.
Occasionally on the way, we visited our distributors in other communities on the front, interested in the news. Not without incident: in order to get to Zelenopillia, we almost got stuck in the mud in the middle of Kurdiumivka. There we learned that two villages – these are 180 people – had been living without water for almost a month. Since January 20, the taps have been empty due to a water supply gust; the local kindergarten and factory in Kurdiumivka have not functioned. Therefore, employees of public utility company Bakhmut-Voda, rescuers of the State Emergency Service and international humanitarian organizations, delivered thousands of liters of technical and drinking water daily.
When we got to Zelenopillia, we found the club manager Oksana Zaitseva at a sewing machine. She made costumes for the little ones for new performances. She immediately boasted of new accessories. Proliska Humanitarian Mission purchased hemming and a steaming iron. Oksana is happy that now the club members will wear bright colors for the holidays:
– We inherited a sewing machine from kindergarten. We sewed shirts and skirts on it. But we have a lot of knitted fabric, there was not anything for finishing edges of fabric. Now everything will be high quality.
Almost empty Mykolaivka freshened up a little. Some of the residents expanded their farms, and some painted their houses in the middle of winter. On the only street a white dog with a black ear nicknamed, of course, Bim, walks but with a local flavor – its name is Bim-Donbass. Because the dog did not go on rotation with its former owners from the Donbass Battalion, but remained to serve the locals. The villagers know it well and feed it.
In Druha Mykolaivka, across the street, a new resident appeared – according to rumors, a resident from Kramatorsk bought an empty house here. The house really began to look inhabited, there are fewer thickets now and near abandoned houses, because a new neighbor cuts dry wood.
Instead, completely empty entry-exit checkpoint “Maiorske” led to sad thoughts. There are only a few shops here. The bank is closed, although it is possible to send and receive cash through an ATM. The checkpoint has not been operating since March last year, locals say.
Closer to Bakhmutka, the Ukrainian flag rises on a high hill. The state flag is also met at the turn to the central part of the village. The center of the village is more or less inhabited and looks very neatly. However, Bazanova Street is almost all broken. According to villagers, it was destroyed by shelling in one day on March 8, 2018. Another 12-kilometer-long street, Rybalka Street, is actually only partially divided and inhabited, as it begins in the temporarily occupied territory of Horlivka (after all, Bakhmutka is actually part of Horlivka village of Zaitsevo). And the street ends here, as evidenced by the numbers on the houses, which begin in the fourth hundred.
– Mykytivka is already 3 kilometers away from us, that is, actually, Horlivka, – Valentyna Boudnik-Konieva, a local activist tells. – Before the war, people went there to work: to mines, factories, railways. There was a local bakery. Now those who remain are sitting without work. In order to earn a penny, they go to help old people who receive a pension and have at least some money. They take care of the sick, do gardening and repair homes.
Valentyna is for locals a woman who solves all issues. They come to her for advice on how to resolve any issues. The woman is constantly in touch, aware of all events: who was born, died, fell ill… Volunteers also contact her with offers to help local residents. Thanks to volunteers, they managed to create a local Support Center in the abandoned building, where activists set up a kitchen, a psychologist’s room, and a mini-library. Humanitarian aid is also received and handed over here – mostly used things, but sometimes also food kits.
Bread is brought to the village twice a week by the military. There is a shop, but the prices there are higher than in Bakhmut, so those who have the opportunity go to the city for groceries. It became easier when a bus was allowed to the village, it travels several times a week. Once a month, Oschadbank’s mobile teams bring money.
In total, about two hundred people live in the village. Twenty schoolchildren take a school bus to the school. Charitable organizations often organize events for local children. They are ready to take children on excursions but very few parents are willing to reimburse even transportation costs.
One of the main local problems is water quality. There is a well in almost every yard, but there is no need to look for drinking water. One of the humanitarian organizations made a well in the middle of the village, but the desired drinking water was not found there. The village stands on a ridge rich in alabaster deposits, so local water is not always possible to even wash things. Therefore, philanthropists provide the villagers with trucked water.
In the seventh year of the war, the community of Bakhmutka became very friendly. If help is needed, the villagers gather. They have events and other activities to improve their community life. And together they hope that the war will finally end, and we will have to get used to peaceful prosperity. And this, if you agree, is much more pleasant.
Liliia ANDRUSYK/Gromada Skhid No. 3 (36) 2021