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Ukraine conflict: Lydia's story

With Russian forces advancing into Ukraine, many of the older people we support there are worried about what is next for them. Lydia, 86, has already lived through one war, and the news reports are keeping her awake at night. With limited mobility and only a meagre pension, Lydia relies on assistance from our partner HelpAge International and volunteer Sveta. 

 "I am a widow, I live alone. My daughter lives in another city, she visits me sometimes, to help me around the house and in the yard. I like to look after flowers, but my health does not allow me to do anything around the garden. I used to grow many different flowers in my garden.

Now I can hardly walk, I almost never go outside, I just move slowly around the house. When I was healthy, I did everything myself, but now I can’t cope without outside help.

The situation with Russia, of course, worries me... After I watch the news, I can't sleep at night, just thinking about what might happen next. Will there be a war or not? There's a lot of talk about it in the news right now. It's been on my mind for days on end. Very disturbing.

I'm afraid that it will be like in the war [World War 2]. I was five years old when the war started. I remember how military vehicles were driving down the street. There was nothing to eat, we had to eat grass... Sometimes we were able to exchange something for a glass of bran. My mother used to steam it with boiling water and feed us.

I'm afraid that we will be bombed like in 2014. Now, as soon as I hear explosions in the distance, I get so scared. At my age, I've experienced so much, I've seen so much - God forbid I experience this again.

Prices have gone up a lot. Groceries are expensive, and utilities too, I must save on everything. I received some heating briquettes, and with that I heat the stove.

I buy only the most necessary groceries and try to stretch them until my next pension. I don’t borrow money, the debts have to be repaid somehow, and I barely survive on my pension.

If the war breaks out, I'll stay at home. There is a cellar in my yard, but I won't be able to reach it. I hope my neighbours don't leave me, God bless them. People suffer, they live in fear, everyone is worried and afraid.

Thanks to Sveta, the HelpAge volunteer, who supports me morally. We talk about a lot with her. The main thing I need is food and human interaction.

I want to wish everyone peace. I survived one war, I know how scary it is. Nothing good will come from the war."

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Last updated: Mar 09 2022

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