Irina Gladkaya, a woman doomed to help people.
Each internally displaced persons has his own story, each had his own motives to leave the ATO zone in 2014 and seek refuge in Ukraine-controlled territory. My interlocutor, Irina Gladkaya, with whom we plunged into the atmosphere of the city of Donetsk in 2014 and frayed the situation again, naturally, taking into account the past five years. We talked about what happened and why we had to leave our home. They talked about how to get to a safe place. Where did you have to live during these five years, how did you meet and why did you have to look for a new place every time. We talked about how blasphemous it might look, what are the positive aspects of the war. As an ordinary manager, a social activist has been created that is known to almost all internally displaced persons, and among activists of IDP, there is hardly a person who does not know , Irina Gladkaya.
So, in the former, an ordinary employee of the Donetsk regional administration «Derzhmolodzhitlo», who did not believe that there would be a war tomorrow — Irina Gladkaya.
Irina is a internally displaced person from Donetsk. In the period until 2013 she worked in the Donetsk regional department «Derzhmolodzhitlo.» According to the heroine herself, she took an active position in the pre-war life only in her family and in her environment. She did nothing more, she was only engaged in the implementation of state programs for providing housing to citizens of the Donetsk region. She liked the work, although it was laborious. In her free time, Irina was engaged in comfort at home, raising children, and her hobbies. Everything was good and stable, and most importantly, nothing portended trouble.
Irina, like many other Donetsk residents, did not believe that one day, in Donetsk, some convoy of armed people could enter and turn over the entire Donbass. In an instant, turn the lives of a million people upside down and, in addition, create a three-letter republic. Irina believed that this whole nightmare would not last long. She believed the President of Ukraine, who promised naive citizens to end all this horror in a couple of weeks. The upcoming next vacation was exactly the time when it was possible to wait out the two-week period at sea promised by the president with health benefits.
I returned to a completely different city.
Two weeks have passed, and there are no changes. Donetsk has a different government, and as Irina says:
— I was in a state of shock and did not understand what to do at all.
The regional administration of Derzhmolodzhitlo crumbled, everyone parted wherever. No one knew how we would work. Given that the accumulations for vacation ended, it was decided to return home. She returned to Donetsk, went to work as if nothing had happened. But, as it turned out, I returned to a completely different city. The RSA was already captured, the doors of many shops were closed, banks did not work, the city was filled with military people and equipment.
But Crimea was recently annexed and we, in order to prevent the same in Donetsk, until March 13, when Dmitriy Chernyavskiy was killed, were active participants in all pro-Ukrainian rallies. It was after this event that they agreed at home to no longer go to rallies, because any such event ended with smoke bombs, chains, robberies. Five years later, even wildly, to recall those events. Today it seems that it was in a completely different life. And so, when after a month of vacation, we returned home, Donetsk was completely different … An empty city where cars and people did not overwhelm the streets, where one could already stand calmly on the carriageway of Artyom Street near the «Golden Ring». That was the end of July 2014.
I went to work and even worked a day, carrying out some urgent assignments that they still gave me from Kiev. In the afternoon, an explosion occurred near the railway station, and the movement of all trains was completely canceled. It was already difficult to leave Donetsk, and I understood that. Therefore, within two hours, I took away my primary documents from work, at that time thinking that if I was on the road, I would do something else in working mode, and decided to leave immediately.
We left through Volnovakha, in our own car, at night, we did not understand where the invaders were, and where else were ours, the Ukrainian military. We went to the dark, on the roads of the fields we got to the Dnieper. At that moment I was driving and believed that everything will be settled and we will return. At dawn we were in Kiev.
The first stop is the city of Korostyshev, the sanatorium Teterev: — I am also a living person …
— We stayed with friends, lived just a few days. Having looked where the internally displaced persons are distributed, we chose Korostyshev, the Teterev sanatorium. We were allocated a room and for two weeks we were there. At that time, everyone helped the IDPs, all of Ukraine and the whole world, there were even volunteers from America. There were more than four hundred IDPs in the sanatorium. We were on duty around the clock, cleaned the territory, got up at six in the morning to cook, peeled potatoes, unloaded cars, washed dishes, took care of children, looked after the sick. Volunteers massively helped with everything necessary for the maintenance of people in the sanatorium. For two weeks I worked in the reception room, registered around the clock newly arrived people from the east of the country, placed them in the buildings.
Two weeks later, I took a day off to go to the hydropark with children in Zhitomir. The sanatorium authorities did not want to let me go and something went wrong. Considering that I, too, lived there as a volunteer, I was catastrophically tired, also a internally displaced person and a living person — turned around, packed up my things and left for Zhytomyr.
Hotel «Zhytomyr», a point of no return and a place from which three years IDP have been evicted.
— In Zhytomyr, the internally displaced persons were accommodated in the Zhytomyr hotel, upon arrival we stopped at the Regional State Administration and were sent as everyone there. So, from the beginning of August the hotel life began, in which we could no longer help each other! At the beginning, there were 70 people living in the hotel, and by September almost 350.
During this period, one must pay tribute to Derzhmolodzhitl. I am grateful to the management that from the routine of terrible events, from reading terrible news every day from my small homeland, from finding a new job in Zhitomir, I was loaded with a sea of tasks. The active phase has begun to restore the activity of the Donetsk administration of Derzhmolodzhitl in Zhitomir and in Slavyansk.
In connection with the restoration of the work of the administration, a trip to the already occupied Donetsk for warm clothes and for documents from work was coming. And I went. I called in Donetsk under the cannonade, saw explosions in the fields along the road from Volnovakha. Endless shots were heard. I drove into a completely empty city, at the airport of which there were active military operations.
It was scary, horror reigned around. Nevertheless, I stayed in Donetsk for several days, packed my things, wrapped them in documents, and drove heavy bags through the checkpoints in Zhytomyr. I was scared that they will found.
I plunged completely into work, the salary was low, and I still had to remain a resident of the «Zhytomyr» hotel. In parallel, I fulfilled my dream. I entered the law faculty of TNEU, which I successfully graduated with honors. After living a year in a hotel, people began to make choices. There were those who did not find any work, and did not understand how to live on, so they returned to that territory. There were those who found profitable accommodation options in the city and were evicted.
The hotel began the first evictions. To understand the situation, it is necessary to take into account that salaries in Zhytomyr were low and did not allow IDPs to rent separate housing. And the hotel administration already actively wanted to get rid of us. Either they wanted to close the hotel for repairs, or they organized a ASC there. Pressure was put on the settlers, and they evicted us every six months. At the hotel we were about 100 people. We organized into an initiative group and resisted as much as we could. They wrote letters to all authorities, made inquiries, made suggestions on how to avoid conflict and reduce social tension. At the same time, we understood that there was an urgent need to create a public organization. And we are creating the only public, resettlement organization in Zhitomir that was officially registered on November 16, 2016 under the beautiful name “Peace in the palm of your hand”. It was difficult to combine a leading position in public administration and the activities of the organization, so I started to actively develop it only in March 2018, when I left Derzhmolodzhitlo.
Today, the organization has more than 350 people.
At first it was the residents of the hotel, but over time, the ATO members with the status of IDP and local residents joined the organization. There are no problems to create and organize, but you need to improve. For the first time we were the first to make ourselves known to the local community, gathering people and volunteers at a magnificent meeting called «Korisna Poskrova» They themselves organized at their own expense, with a culinary master class for adults. Everything went cool! Thus, we thanked those who were with us in a difficult period.
From that moment, the organization began its activities, which was already expressed in helping others. They brought food, some things, blankets, dishes, medicines, and we decided that not only we needed these things. We transferred part of the atoshniks to orphanages.
In early 2018, we decided to help children from a boarding school in Grishkovtsy, Zhytomyr region. They collected dozens of boxes with gifts, but this was not enough. We decided, with the support of the Culture Department of the Zhytomyr City Council, to organize in the city charitable fair “Generous palms”. We got a very «Crazy fair «! Most of the participants in the charity fair were IDP. Each visitor to the fair was able to purchase a variety of sweets, souvenirs, jewelry, jewelry for girls, handicrafts, paintings, toys, and for a nominal amount — buy commission items. Everything that was acquired at the fair contributed to a good deed — helping orphans. Thus, we announced that we can and at the same time thanked the community for their support and responsiveness. Thus, we bought individual gifts for each child, took them to children who have health problems, and delivered them humanitarian aid and toys.
You can talk a lot about good things for a long time, and we did them from the heart, from a pure heart. This is the festival for the Day of the Refugee “One community, one country,” and the game-quest “Zhitomir unites”, and the international exhibition of drawings in the walls of the city hall, and trainings, master classes and much more. He received awards from the Association of Patrons of Ukraine for two consecutive years, received an award for the best local initiative in Ukraine in 2018. But it was necessary to introduce some programs to provide IDP with housing and there were so many problems with these …
The life of a social activist without emotions is boring, while we are increasingly talking about the syndrome of emotional burnout among IDPs. Day after day, we don’t get emotions, but give them more … In the fall of 2018, a terrible streak in life began.
— One by one they cut down projects, 8 rejections of applications. Again the eviction of IDP from the hotel, again the fees, the IDPs again came with despair and the question, what should I do? Again, applications to the city hall, endless suggestions on how to solve the problem, one and the same in a circle, and all to zero.
The terrible thing is burnout. Everything burns out, completely. There is not the slightest desire to help someone. And only one thought — you need to stop, stop helping people, this ungrateful and energy-consuming thing …
Flooded, covered, tired, decided to quit.
But fate cannot be deceived. On the eve of his birthday, an accident … ambulance, resuscitation …
Doctors, looking at me during the analysis of the corpse, said – you a very lucky person. And I got up, gray-blue went to the reception, everyone was in shock. These don’t survive …
transmission from the past — «Obvious — incredible.» And off and on, resuscitation in Kiev, a day later in Zhitomir, months for rehabilitation. Then it dawned on me what happened.
When you start from scratch more than once: both left the war and die after almost five years, — Apparently the Guardian Angel decided to leave me here, then early, then this is my mission in life! How can I stop helping people? According to this, I continue! And I’m here, and I sculpt, and I dare not give up …
Yes, now I have two birthdays! And immediately after discharge, I celebrated my Day with my passport, then I was very vividly congratulated by my pirate girlfriends, then I thank them for such support. And after the New Year, I still wanted to move to another city. I went to reconnaissance with a friend, passed an interview and returned to Zhitomir to close working hours. But in the meantime, we went to the finals of the All-Ukrainian contest “Challenge innovation to resolve conflict”, which we won in the end. That’s how I stayed in the city and are engaged in the implementation of the project, namely the creation of a social enterprise.
Everything that does not kill us makes you stronger.
I think that today there is already something to be proud of, there is something to share and something to tell everyone about. Not without our participation in Zhytomyr they adopted the Procedure for Providing IDPs with Temporary Housing.
Now we expect the receipt of state funds for the purchase of 6 apartments in the city of Zhytomyr for temporary residence in them IDPs.
But, we do not abandon the Comprehensive approach to solving housing problems of internally displaced persons and are convinced that a number of orders and programs should work in all regions of Ukraine.
And no matter how difficult the path to such a result, it is worth it! And we, strengthened in victory and inspired by success, move on…..