Leave everything ... A house where he/she lived for so many years and where the walls themselves warm up. Friends and neighbors.
Can you imagine what despair involves a person who is forced to run a mile? And ypurself – in the place of those who are dryly called in official documents as "internally displaced persons"? And what would you feel if you have to flee tomorrow – though not, today, immediately (!) – from your home?..
At noontime we visited the modular town built for resettlers in the 4th Southern neighborhood of Zaporizhzhia. In bright sunshine the modules did not look very attractive. Such are white plastic "boxes", arranged in neat rows.
Each module is a separate room with a bathroom (shower, sink and toilet). Rooms are tight, like a roomette in a coach-sleeping car. "Two-story" beds reinforce this impression. However, what do you want? Modular town is a temporary housing. When Germany presented the modules with all their utensils – it was assumed that people would not live there for quite a while. Well, a month or two. But, as you know, there is nothing more permanent than the "temporary"...
"We live here for the third year", pensioner Vira Babenko says. "The living conditions are even better than we had at home. Many thanks to the Germans who presented this modular town. They are very good-natured. They do not chat in our way, but understand by hearts."
With her husband and her old mother, Vira Dmytrivna arrived in Zaporizhzhia from the city of Komsomolsk (now – Kalmiuske), Donetsk oblast. From the zone that is under the control of the "DNR".
"We did not call them", the woman sighed. "We lived well. We had grapes like a pigeon egg. Roses – 27 shrubs... Give God to end the war! We will go to our collapsed kitchen, into our sunken garage, but we will be at home. "
Wheelchair for Nadiia Ivanivna
Last year the married couple made an attempt to return to Komsomolsk. But when they heard explosions and saw the ruins and the tops of trees and pipes that were cut off as with a razor, – they realized that they made haste.
This trip caused them even more troubles. When they were going there – they noticed at the checkpoint, and on the way back – had not. Because of this, the married couple pension was arrested for a while. All documents – in the bank and social services – had to be completed again.
"In the pension fund, I asked: "How much time do we need waiting for money? My mother is old, I have to feed her..." And there's a woman – an angry one! – do you know what she said? "This is your problem! Maybe in May, and maybe in August. But until you get a pension, do not go home because they will be blocked again."
Vira Dmitrivna shared with us one more problem. Her mother, Nadiia Ivanivna Bashtovenko, is 87 years old. She is a disabled person of group I and cannot walk alone. The old woman needs a wheelchair. Moreover, just now, and not in a year or six months.
Charity organizations have not been able to help her so far. Therefore, Vira Dmytrivna applies to the readers of "Zaporizka pravda" newspaper:
"Loan, please, any wheelchair, let an old one. For a time. As they say, with "kickback"!
The woman hopes for sensitive hearts of Zaporizhzhians. After all, according to her observations, in our region the resettlers are treated with understanding and kindness.
"I am Ukrainian. I was and I will be. Ukraine is my Motherland, my love and joy. I get up every morning, thank God and ask: let this war end!" confesses Vira Dmytrivna. "But perhaps we do not pray much..."
The bridegroom from Kostiantynivka
In general, tenants like the modular town. Of course! Everything is secured here. There are kitchens with electric cookers, laundries with modern washing machines, refrigerators, a large gazebo for rest, a sports ground with an artificial "herbal" coating... The most spacious room is a children's room (volunteers organize here games and performances for the children, and sometimes the administration of the town uses it to hold a meeting of tenants).
"Wouldn't it be great if we have good Internet", Vladyslav Novytskyi wishes.
The guy came to Zaporizhzhia from Kostiantynivka. This large, 70-thousandth city, fortunately, did not fall under the control of the "DNR". But the difficulties in the front-line zone are all the same:
"At home I could not find a job", Vladyslav explains. "And in Zaporizhzhia I found a job of packer-stacker at "Zaporizhstal" plant."
In the module, he lives with another guy and a man, who is older than both of them. Of course, it's easier for young people to dare to move and adapt to the conditions of the hostel. And Vladyslav already found a girl in Zaporizhzhia...
Children sleep peacefully
Instead, it was not easy to move for Ovezovy family. Of course! Five children – it is an excellent "anchor" that held them in Donetsk. But…
"We moved when they started shooting", Mariia Ovezova, mother of the great family, explains. "We have our own home in Donetsk – it is still worth it. Only the roof is flowing. My husband sometimes goes there. We with children, of course, do not go there. We wanted to come back home. We gave it a try, lived a month – and again went to Zaporizhzhia. The children were afraid even to go outside! And here we sleep peacefully. School and kindergarten are nearby. We are all respected and well placed. We like Zaporizhzhia.
Ovezovy family takes in modular town two modules – a kind of "two-room apartment". The eldest son works in "Medtehnika". A daughter is studying in Zaporizhzhia Lyceum of service: she takes the profession of a seamstress and acquires the secondary education. The middle child Lizochka is a person disabled since childhood. A teacher from a neighboring school comes to her few times a week. Tanya, a girl of six, attends a preschool department. In September, she will become a first-grader. A three-year-old Dianochka only intend to go to kindergarten.
When we visited Ovezovy family, Lisa wrote something carefully in the notebook. Nearby unsteady Dianka spun. The girl, along with her mother, showed us examples of her creativity: the picture hanging on a wall of the module. And though it was difficult to recognize a wolf or two pussies, but this is what she herself has painted!
Court passed a verdict, but...
At home, we found also the father (of the family) – Narmamet Nurgeldynovych. He took the opportunity to tell about the problems of the family of resettlers:
"Lisa, as a person disabled since childhood, should be put on a car waiting list. But the Department of Social Protection of Zaporizhzhia Oblast State Administration refuses to do so, and the district Administration of Labor and Social Protection is not authorized to solve such a problem. Officials say you should be put on a car waiting list at your permanent place of residence – that is, in Donetsk. But since all the powers of the Donetsk regional authorities have been transferred to Mariupol, it is necessary to go there – that is above two hundred kilometers, and it is unknown where to live, whom should address... This infringes upon my rights and the rights of my daughter. The district court, having considered the case, ordered to put her on the waiting list, but the decision is still not abided."
As well, it was necessary to sue out for the justice on fee-for-service. A large family of internally displaced persons with a disabled child should receive 50% discount. But in the modular town Ovezovy family pay for "communal" in full. On May 16, Zhovtnevy District Court ordered to sue Narmamet Ovezov's claim to the municipal utility company "Osnovanie". Now it remains to wait for refund a sum overpaid for almost a year. When? Nobody can tell. As they say, "will be further..."
How much does it cost
Usually problems in the modular town somehow "lock" on the manager – Anzhela Nedopiekina. However not all of them are in her competence. Yet Angela Vasylivna explained to us the situation with payment for utilities.
Germany presented Ukraine with six modular towns. Now it is the property of the Red Cross Society of Ukraine. However in fact, in Zaporizhzhia the municipal utility company "Osnovaniie" /’Foundation’ / makes arrangements in the modular town.
No inhabitants pay for the living space. But boilers for hot water, convectors for heating the premises, kitchen stoves and other equipment consume a lot of electricity. And there are one electricity meter and one cold water meter in the whole town. Total expenses are divided by the number of tenants. In winter, of course, they are higher. In the summer – quite modest.
According to Angela Vasylivna, the largest monthly amount resettlers paid this winter – 417 hryvnias per person. In March, it decreased to 265. Last summer it did not exceed one hundred hryvnias per month. And on average, in 2016, the monthly payment for utilities per inhabitant was 177 hryvnias. Note, that internally displaced persons (including residents of the modular town) have the opportunity to receive targeted assistance for housing and utilities – 890 UAH per month.
353 of 544 seats are occupied in Zaporizhzhia modular town. But let's not say in the heat of the moment that it is "semi-settled". In fact, there are not so many free places. Do you settle, for example, the eighth occupant in those two modules, which are occupied by the large Ovezovy family? Or the fourth occupant – in the module to Babenko married couple with their 87-year-old mother who cannot even get out of bed? And whom will you "encapsulate" in the room to the family with a baby?
Note: out of 353 residents of the modular town – 85 children. Moreover, for two and a half years thirteen infants were born in the resettlers’ families, who found shelter here. Thirteen little Zaporizhzhians! Childbirth of their mothers was taken under the best conditions – in the regional perinatal center. There are no problems with places for kids in kindergartens. Schoolchildren and preschoolers are taken by the educational complex No. 110 at Steshenka Street, located 100 meters from the modular town. And good gymnasium was found for those who studied in Ukrainian-language schools.
"I'm working here from the first day, when the town was put into operation", Angela Nedopekina recalls. "At the beginning there was a lot of problems, including psychological ones. There are people who really have nothing left: from Pisky, from Makiivka... They have nowhere to go. There are those who just do not want to go back. Though they have their apartments, houses there, but: "We will not go there". Now the very few are coming directly from the ATO zone or from the territory of the so-called "DNR". The resettlement goes, for the most part, all over Ukraine."
"Have you evicted someone for bad behavior? "
"There was only one such incident, but very serious. Don't get me wrong: here people behave the same way they behaved at home. If they were sitting back there, sipped alcohol – then they would not turn upside down. The woman, which we were forced to evict, drank alcohol every day and threatened other tenants. It turned out that it was rushing to people with a knife. We picked up a commission to deal with it. The hard decision was made harder for us because of the fact that she this woman had a minor child and a disabled mother. In the end, the woman said: "I lived that way and I will live alike further!" – And she went to her hometown.
Three years – end of!
Gradually, all problems are solved in the modular town. For example, for a long time they tried to put civilized pathways on its territory (until recently it was simply filled with gravel). Now the pathways are there. And soon there will be a fence, about which Angela Nedopekina literally dreams:
"Somebody say: "It will look like a ghetto." And I answer: rather, it will look like elite house. What else did you expect? Stray dogs, not sober visitors, all sorts of questionable "tourists"... Why are all this for our tenants? Dogs have already tasted two children – well, that did not cause unpleasant consequences. In Pavlohrad, in the modular town, the fence was made – and all are very pleased with it."
May be, our resettlers will also enjoy walling off a little bit of interesting eyes. But the clock ticks like a bomb: the third anniversary of the modular town is approaching. They say, on terms agreed with the German side, after three years the town has to be ... disassembled. In this case – why spend on the fence, tracks and other amenities? And where, pray tell, will the resettlers settle down?
The end of the war, unfortunately, is not yet visible. The inhabitants are confident: they will not be thrown out into the street.
"People say, it seems that a hostel for us is under an arrangement. But nobody knows for sure", Vira Babenko said.
But where is the good of this hostel, if the resettlers have already become obese in a modular town at 18 Steshenka Street? Somebody even has planted flowers next to his module...
In the opinion of Angela Nedopekina, manager of the town, later the town can be used as a temporary social housing – for example, for single mothers. But first of all, it will be necessary to place all resettlers somewhere. To find convenient, affordable housing for 353 internally displaced persons – mostly those in need: women with children, pensioners, and people with disabilities... Maybe it's not necessary to complicate the situation – and it is better to leave them in the habitat?
A bit of statistics
How many resettlers do we have?
"One million 198 thousand 890 residents of Donetsk oblast, Lugansk region and Crimea temporarily found refuge in other regions of the country", informs the interdepartmental coordination headquarters of the State Service of Ukraine for Emergencies.
Zaporizka oblast is one of the five regions that took the most resettlers. We have at present 70 thousand people or thereabout. According to Iryna Ozerna, the Deputy Head of the Department for social protection of the population of Zaporizhzhia city council, about 23 thousand resettlers are registered only in the regional center. And given the unregistered, total number of internally displaced persons is likely to be even higher. However, experts note: in recent years the number of resettlers remains constant.
Among the internally displaced persons who settled down in Zaporizka oblast, the number of men – less than ten thousand, while women – above 21 thousand. There are approximately the same number of people with disabilities and elderly people. Moreover, there are almost 18 thousand children among the resettlers.
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This article has been prepared in a framework of the Regional Voices project, supported by the European Union.