Six stories of one life of the internally displaced person

From the beginning of 2014, I moved eight times. With crockery, books, a child’s bed and other important and valuable to my heart things. I managed to try on myself all “advantages” of the commonly used expressions “Donetsk registration” and “displaced person” as many other Donetsk and Luhansk citizens.

“We don’t need Donetsk citizens here”

Kyiv. July 2014. I moved from Donetsk several weeks ago. Two months are left until childbirth. I feel bad and go to the nearest prenatal women’s healthcare center. I’m waiting an eternity in the queue. After seeing my registration address on my medical record, the doctor advises me to go back from where I came to them, “I don’t need Donetsk citizens here, you’re all separatists”… And kicks me out without even examining. That day’s evening my sister drives me to an expensive private hospital which helps mother’s with “inappropriate” registration. Examination, tests, ultrasound scanner and consultation with the best specialists – and all these are absolutely for free. Luckily, the child is okay but I’m advised to keep myself safe and calm. I’m joking that they will have to force me into information coma.

“Bring my previous life back to me”

Mariupol. August 2014. There’re two weeks left until the childbirth. The maternity house doesn’t accept without a temporal certificate and I, in the midst of a heatwave, go to the charity fund. They’re the only now who give certificates to evidence such a moving. In the house of either kindergarten or school, there’s a point of reception of refugees who fled the zone of the military actions. There’re tents, bottles with drinking water everywhere. And children. But they don’t play as it’s common for normal children but scaredly and quietly lean towards their relatives, without letting small toys out. Perhaps, this is the most precious what remains in their lives. The rest was left there, behind the boundary. Without waiting in the queue, they issue a certificate and really carefully ask if they can help me with something else. “Bring my previous life back to me” – is all that I answer. I go, pulling behind two ten-kilos bags which I couldn’t have refused. Unknown men help me to bring this fortune home – to the next rented apartment. In the bags, there is a lot of buckwheat, different groats, glazed cookies, condensed milk, and canned food. I leave cookies and condensed milk, groats and the rest send by bus to Donetsk, to my grandmother. She calls on the next day, cries and thanks for the food. I cry together with her.

When I don’t have even a blanket.

Dnipro. November 2014. The son is three months old. In the charity fund, we are given a new certificate, some products and a warm blanket: “Take, you have a child, you will need it”. I’m always convinced that there’re those who need aid more than me – so, I return from the fund with ambiguous feelings of shame and gratitude. Because I really don’t have a blanket – I haven’t planned to leave Donetsk for so long. I go downstairs, more resembling a tottering penguin: in one hand I have a pram with son, in the other – a big bag with products and blanket. But without a new certificate from the state social service we aren’t registered at the district pediatrician. I should apply for a visit two weeks in advance, and appear for registration at a clearly defined time. I’m late because the son is crying and I have to breastfeed him just in the car near the entrance. “It’s rude of you to be late”, the lady reports from the window. I have to apply for registration once more. In general, a state certificate, as well as an opportunity to visit a doctor, I get a month after moving from Mariupol to Dnipro.

When I was on duty – I was deprived of childbirth assistance

Dnipro. March 2017. The son is two and a half years old. I serve as the commander of the battalion of the patrol police. I find out that I stop receiving state childbirth assistance under 3 years of age. A wise friend, the same displaced person as me tells the news – according to new rules, the houses are inspected. For those, who are not at home at this moment any allowance is canceled. In my district state social service, I’m surprised to find that I was actually visited while I was on duty. And all allowances were blocked. They didn’t even hear about the necessity of attracting some witnesses for such an act. After two night shifts, I in my uniform go to the head of the social service. I explain that the quality of my battalion’s work depends on the constant guarding of their building to prevent nightly theft. And the quality of social service work depends on, at least, warning in advance about their visits by phone.

Friends in misfortune

Kyiv. November 2017. The son is three years old. I’m at work. A phone call, “Attention! This is an inspection. We are going to be at your registration address in an hour”. This time I’m fortunate – they called. I explain that I’m on duty – they harshly answer that in this case, I should be personally present for inspecting within two days. I consult with friends-volunteers from the charity fund. I explain that inspections are no longer conducted for civil servant according to the Cabinet of Ministers Resolution. I’m explaining this to the representative of social service. But they have the list for inspecting and a schedule and don’t they give a damn about some resolution. I warn that I am recording the conversation and, if necessary, I will complain to all offices and file lawsuits against this particular employee who violates the law. The next day, I go to the social service personally and take a present – a printed Resolution (I submitted my work certificate at the time of registration). I stay in the queue in a narrow and dark hall. The one side is lined with boxes of documents. The other with same as me, the displaced persons. The employees of the social service, passing by, pish as if saying how we annoy them and don’t let them work calmly. In response to this, a little girl scaredly cries. I propose her mother to play with her child until she issues all the documents. She gladly agrees – although I’m a stranger, here we are practically friends in misfortune.

4,5 years for tolerance

Kyiv. January 2019. The son is four years old. The same social service. Unexpectedly, there was a comfortable ramp for people with disabilities and moms with prams. And even an electronic queue! Just five minutes of waiting, and I’m met by a sweet girl at the computer. A certificate of the temporarily displaced person, forgotten at home doesn’t prevent her from finding me in the registry and from quickly reissuing everything. And finally, she tells a pleasant piece of news: now it’s not obligatory to turn up here every sixth month to the day. According to the new scheme, two weeks before the date all displaced persons can come to reissuing the documents in any comfortable time. I go out and silently cry.

This system needed 4,5 years to become more humane. In any case, it’s better later, than never. In the evening at home, I make black tea with condensed milk – I’m addicted to it since that time, back in Mariupol. I open Facebook. A friend-refugee, a civil servant from the Ministry of Social Politics posted some news – this is the instruction how I can realize my right to vote on the presidential election in spring 2019.

I’m not alone. We’re one and a half million. One and a half million wounded lives, broken plans and buried hopes. On behalf of one and a half million, I write this to sincerely thank those who have helped and continue helping us all the time:

Charity fund “East – SOS” and personally Oleksandra Dvoretska;

Charity fund “Svoi” and personally Oksana Sukhorukova.

The Ministry of Social Politics and personally Olesya Tsybulko;

The doctors of the hospital “Isida” and its direction, Kyiv;

Volunteers of charity fund “Dopomoha Dnipra”, “Red Cross”, “Caritas-Ukraine” and the charity fund in Mariupol, which name I haven’t even written down;

The worker of the window number 5 of the Department of Labor and Social Protection of Shevchenkivskyi District, Kyiv, who brought the hope for this structure to me.

And dozens of hundreds of volunteers and activists who continue to do their job or came to the civil service. Only thanks to your hard work we all have a chance to make this country a better one!

Anastasia Khaleyeva

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