Moment is publishing regular updates from Helen, a Soviet American Jew living in Kyiv. Read all the diary entries here.
“Light is to darkness what love is to fear; in the presence of one the other disappears.”
Those words by Marianne Williamson can’t describe the spirits of Kyivites better.
Love is in the air. Love for Ukraine, for the beloved city, for the defenders, and for each other. People are fearlessly volunteering at various undertakings: cooking for soldiers and the elderly, assisting in health-care facilities, donating blood (as I did), collecting equipment and medicine, providing transportation for delivering food and water to those in need, as well as to animal shelters.
The major chain of supermarket stores, Silpo, started to give out a limited amount of cash added to the purchase—unprecedented practice before the war. Bank branches are closed, and withdrawing money is impossible because bank machines don’t work. With that cash, it has become easier for me because I don’t have to buy and carry heavy bags of groceries several times a day in the freezing cold. I can give the cash to friends and bring groceries just for ourselves and the elderly in our apartment building.
We are also cut off from our income. The lessons I continue to teach I am doing free of charge. Leon’s (my husband) employer is in the West of Ukraine. He transferred some money (a fraction of Leon’s paycheck) from his personal account, and Leon doesn’t want to ask for more, knowing that there are other employees who are also in need.
I’m lucky to have a card linked to an American bank. My daughter, her friends and my friends in the United States keep transferring some money, and these transactions have amounted to a kind of fund we are willing and eager to share. Our gratitude and the gratitude of people whom we are helping is enormous.
The government provided minimal assistance to those who were officially employed, but in Ukraine, the taxes were so high and the salaries were so low that many people I know are not eligible for this government supplement. Especially creatives.
The elderly do get their pensions, but they barely made ends meet even before the war. Now, when only super expensive stuff is available in supermarkets, it has become even more difficult for them.
And, to tell you the truth, I’m puzzled why the stores are not restocking dairy, meats, poultry, etc. Probably everything goes to the army.
I want to end this post with a wonderful poem that says it all.
On the Other Side
by Lynn Ungar
Through the looking glass,
down the rabbit hole,
into the wardrobe and out
into the enchanted forest
where animals talk
and danger lurks and nothing
works quite the way it did before,
you have fallen into a new story.
It is possible that you
are much bigger—or smaller—
than you thought.
It is possible to drown
in the ocean of your own tears.
It is possible that mysterious friends
have armed you with magical weapons
you don’t yet understand,
but which you will need
to save your own life and the world.
Everything here is foreign.
Nothing quite makes sense.
That’s how it works.
Do not confuse the beginning
of the story with the end.
Kyviv Diary Entries
- 3/14/2022 “Today is a good day. We have Netflix and eggs”
- 3/16/2022 “This night four buildings were bombed”
- 3/17/2022 “The situation with Israel bothers Ukranians a lot”
- 3/20/2022 “Heartbroken adults are forced to leave the elderly behind”