Lyubov fled with only the clothes on her back.
Retired biology teacher Lyubov, 77, had to leave her home in Eastern Ukraine due to the conflict with Russia. She now lives in a shelter in Dnipro Oblast. Living in the shelter is safer but she misses home, and she has only a small pension to get by with. Her passion for making and mending clothes helps, and she is supported by HelpAge thanks to donations to the DEC Ukraine Crisis Appeal.
“I was born with the ability to make clothes. Since I was a child, I have done it and I have made clothes for everyone in my family. I have three children, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. At 71 years old, I even learned embroidery.
I am considered a disabled person after having a stroke and heart attack some years ago. After the stroke, I couldn’t speak or move. I spent six months in hospital and slowly recovered. I still walk with a cane and get dizzy sometimes. I also have diabetes, as well as hearing and eyesight problems.
My husband died a long time ago and I lived alone in downtown Lysychansk. For 20 days I slept in a corridor on the stairway.
It was bearable when the shelling was not that hard and then they started to attack really heavily. There was one day when the whole house was shaking, the windows were blown out. I remember there was white powder from the walls in my mouth.
After living through that night my grandson put us in the car and we drove with only the clothes we had on us. I had a winter coat and boots …
I feel settled here and comfortable. We’re fed and cleaned, and taken care of, but, still, I would like to go back home. Everything is so bad that, of course, we cannot go back home.
Now that I live in a refugee shelter I have less independence. To sit doing nothing all day, even at 77, is very difficult. If the sewing machine worked better, I would spend the whole day with this and, you know, it would pass faster. I wouldn’t cry thinking about my son who is still somewhere in Lysychansk.
The only thing I do sometimes is peel potatoes and other vegetables. At home, I would wake up, drink coffee, walk outside in the garden and do something… I would go to the store. I miss my garden.”