Lyubov, Ihor, and Nina’s Story: Navigating Multiple Disabilities in Bucha, Ukraine

Lyubov (76) lives with her husband Ihor (73) and sister Nina (73) in a small private house in Bucha, Ukraine. The town that now seems to summon images of death and destruction has been a home to her and her family for generations. Now it’s also home to three new generations of their dynasty: Her daughter, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter also live there, albeit in separate apartments.

Lyubov is a chemist by profession and fondly recalls the many geological expeditions she has participated in. Her husband Ihor (73) is a former police officer and one of the responders to the Chernobyl disaster. He survived two strokes and is now a wheelchair user. 

Her sister Nina used to work as a nurse at a pediatric clinic. Her acute osteoarthritis means she lives with near-constant pain. 

Lyubov herself has a disability because of her spinal hernia. After the war, she started having problems with her legs too. Now a short trip to the shop is followed by a several-hour recovery and rest in bed.
The three of them struggle to afford the long list of expensive medicines they need for their respective conditions. The best they can do is buy cheap painkillers that badly affect their digestive systems.

“I live with my sister and my husband, both 73. He has had two strokes…. My sister has acute osteoarthritis. I have problems with my spine as well, so I’m in constant pain. The list of medications we need is long. We cannot afford most of it.”

Their house which survived Nazi occupation in the 40s, was badly damaged in the first weeks of the war.

Ihor Tkachenko, 73 (left), and Lyubov Tkachenko, 76 (right), in Bucha
Nina Kozynska, 73 (left), and Lyubov Tkachenko, 76 (right), in Bucha
Lyubov Tkachenko, 76, in Bucha
Nina Kozynska, 73 (left), Lyubov Tkachenko, 76 (right), in Bucha

“The Russian soldiers had a barricade in our yard. They used our furniture and carpets to barricade themselves. My sister and I were in the cellar, and my husband remained in the house because he is in a wheelchair, and we simply could not take him with us,” Lyubov recalls.

The three of them lived under occupation for nearly a month before they evacuated to western Ukraine. During the three months of being there, they received monthly allowance and food. Upon return to Irpin, they had to fix up the damaged property with used materials before winter began.

“It’s not easy… My son-in-law is unemployed at the moment. My daughter is an accountant. She works remotely and her salary was halved after the full-scale invasion. And she also has to help out her own daughter and granddaughter. So the family needs money,” Lyubov explains. 

The support options are rare or little known. The local government denied their request to assist with home repairs, citing lack of funds.

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