Elderly residents trapped at a nursing home near the frontline of war in eastern Ukraine are to be evacuated thanks to donations from a fundraiser held thousands of miles away in New Orleans in the US.
Ukrainian-born Katya Chizayeva, who now lives in the Louisiana city, organised the event at a restaurant after reading in the Guardian about the plight of residents at the facility in Chasiv Yar, a Donbas village just kilometres away from the frontline. A total of $8,000 (£6,351) was raised for the nursing home.
Without the means to leave, elderly people have borne the brunt of the fighting in the Donbas over the last eight years. The situation only worsened when Russia launched its full-scale invasion in February.
When the Guardian visited the nursing home in April, most of the residents interviewed had been made homeless by the shelling.
The nursing home’s director, Ievhen Tkachov, said they are in the process of evacuating the last 12 people – a mixture of those who are bedridden and new residents they have received because of the fighting nearby.
“The biggest chunk of the money will go towards making the accommodation suitable for the old people,” said Tkachov.
Tkachov started searching for a place to move the residents when the war started. Having lived under the Russian-backed separatists, Tkachov said they had to leave.
“I know there will be no water, no electricity, no heating, no medicine. This lot will become a mass grave in a matter of days,” said Tkachov, referring to his vulnerable residents. “We have to go.”
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Over a month ago he wrote a post on Facebook as he panicked about approaching Russian soldiers. Russian forces have not made much progress along the entrenched 2014-2022 eastern frontline where Chasiv Yar sits. But in the first weeks of the war, they captured swathes of territory to the north and east, encircling Ukrainian-controlled Donbas.
A local church in the Khmelnytskyi region of western Ukraine contacted Tkachov. They asked the local authorities for help and a disused school was allocated for the elderly evacuees. Tkachov and his team are in the process of renovating it.
So far, they have evacuated more than 30 people to the school.
“We are going to buy a boiler to make it warmer,” said Tkachov, explaining how the money would be spent. “At the moment it’s suitable …….