Amandine Colin/MSF
Serguei, 49, lives in Lugansk, and is a member of the Blind Association where MSF provides mental health counseling.
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“I contracted measles when I was eight and lost my sight. I have been living in Lugansk for 32 years. I moved here just after graduating from a special school for handicapped kids. I was doing some work making lightbulb sockets. It was a regular job, I was paid and I also received a pension from the government. Sometimes, the work was sporadic and the salary as well, but with the pension, I had everything I needed.
Now the business here is not working anymore, so I don’t get a salary. Since July, I haven’t received the pension. We received some money once in October, but that’s it. People now have to rely on humanitarian aid, but for the past months we haven’t been receiving anything because Lugansk is isolated. We now live in very difficult conditions: we have to eat the food we stored before the war, the sugar and the cereals we have. Fruit and meat are too expensive, we just buy bread and some dairy products we get at cheap price from a local dairyman. I don’t know how long we can keep holding on.
I stayed in Lugansk during the war in the summer. There were a lot of shelling in the district where we live, but it was impossible to go to the basement: how can you go quickly to the basement when you are blind? We didn’t have fresh water, we could get some bread from the shop or distributed by charities, but some days it was impossible to leave the apartment.
My wife is suffering from a chemical burn she had many years before but we can’t get the necessary medication from the local pharmacy anymore. She still has some from her stock, but only for the next six weeks.”