41-year old Alena was a well-to-do, middle class woman from Donetsk. She had a large home and a good income. She was single and wanted to share her life with someone else, so decided to adopt. In 2012, Darina entered Alena’s life, aged 3. Darina had special needs, she was ill, and developmentally young for her age.
Just before the war broke out, Alena adopted 2 more children, 10-year-old Tolik and 7-year-old Vika. Vika had a severe squint. Straight after he was adopted, he underwent his first surgery. In 2014, he had his second. Alena recalls the spring of 2014 when she was taking Vika to the hospital, she was stopped by strangers insisting “Don’t go there! There's shooting."
She says her greatest worry was that she will receive a phone call from the kindergarten saying "Come to the kindergarten to pick up kids asap! There's shooting here." Alena’s greatest fear came true and while she was running there, she had just one thought: ‘"I’ll be there on time ..." After another bombardment, when I miraculously survived, I said: “No way. Tomorrow we are leaving Donetsk."’
The family of 4 had to leave their big, comfortable home and move to Kiev, without any support. It was complicated as the children had adjusted to their new life, and had been uprooted once more. However, Alena managed. She has found a job in Kiev, but her current salary is nothing in comparison to what she previously earned. They live in a rented flat, with few friends and Alena has to go on endless business trips. The children are doing well mentally now, despite still being physically unwell and requiring ongoing treatment. Alena’s parents recently moved to Kiev, and are able to help with the children, now, too.
All of Alena’s income is spent on the children’s medication.
Each of the children received a blanket, to keep them warm during the freezing winter, as did each of Alena’s parents. This allowed the family to spend money on other essentials.
Alena and her children were incredibly thankful:
“We could have only dreamed to buy new winter quilts. Kids are growing up in a very fast way and they simply bigger sizes. But bed linens and blankets are needed as well. And I can’t afford it paying my rent and covering medicines for kids on my minor income. I am a strong person and I survived this horrible war having no tears so please excuse my tears now. These are tears of happiness and gratitude.”