Rotten Apples

Hanna, Khmelnytskyi region, 27.03.2022

Rotten Apples

Good afternoon, Andrew. Thank you for supporting Ukrainian teachers. Thank you for drawing the attention of the world’s community to the Russian-Ukrainian war. In fact, when I received your message, I thought it was definitely not about me.

Yes, there is a war in Ukraine. But the war has been going on since 2014. Yes, there are people in Ukraine who need financial help. But I live in Khmelnytsky region and it is relatively calm here. Yes, oftentimes we hear alarms (sirens), but we live in our homes, we go to work, we hug our relatives ... we live !!!


I want to share my way of resistance with you. I am a teacher, a history teacher. Analysing the situation in Ukraine, putting together the puzzles of foreign and domestic political processes, I realised long before February 24 that a full-scale war could not be avoided: sooner or later it had to happen. But, even for me, the realisation that this is a war came as a shock. I did not leave the TV for two days. It was extremely important for me to know all the details - the directions, the intensity of the shelling, the numbers of dead… it seemed to me that if I left for even a moment, I would lose control of the situation, I would not be able to respond to changes, to adapt.

When it became obvious that the Ukrainians were giving a decent rebuff at the front line, the feeling came that I had to do everything in my power here in the rear to help the army. This feeling of guilt did not allow me to breathe or live in peace. Whatever you do, the thought remains the same “how will this help us win?“

We already had the experience of volunteering. The war has been going on for 8 years. What have we not been doing all this time? We prepared “dry rations,“ collected vegetables, canned food, wove nets, knitted socks and children's toys, sewed mats… We did it all!

But now the situation was radically different. No one could be sure of tomorrow. Is it scary? No! If I am safe today and can help someone, then I help. Today I will help, tomorrow I will be helped.

The number one task is to feed the soldiers. Have you seen the queues of volunteers for military enlistments? The support system was not set up, no one could be ready for so many mobilised. What can we do? History has taught Ukrainian peasants to always live in reserve. Therefore, after our Facebook post “Our Needs,“ our collection point was filled with hundreds of kilograms of potatoes, onions, beets, carrots, cabbage, and thousands of cans over the weekend. In addition to the fact that everyone had a cellar, people bought pasta, flour, cereals, tea, coffee, cigarettes, sugar, hygiene items, medicine… And they all brought something, not much, but together - it was the scene which made us hopeful! I remember how my neighbour became offended because she wanted to help but could not physically carry in her two hands what she had cooked!

Task number two - the food is good, but our guys have nowhere to cook. Therefore, it is necessary to transfer already prepped meals. A need is a need. Thousands of dumplings, pies, cutlets, etc. were made by our housewives. Do you need milk for pies? One post asked and in half an hour we already have 7 bottles of milk! Do you need meatballs or meat for meatballs? In the morning, a local businessman brought us a pig carcass, and then two more… Why do people give everything they have? Because there is an absolute understanding, if the enemy is not stopped there on the left bank of the Dnieper, then tomorrow all you have got will simply be bombed and you will still lose everything.

Task number three – they need camouflage nets. Those are needed by all units! And they are also needed ASAP! Follow-up Facebook post: we need camouflage fabric and old military clothes for weaving nets, as well as spare hands which will cut the fabric into the right pieces to weave. In the morning I was going to school, and I was very worried that people would not come. But when I opened the door, I found myself in a hive - people kept on arriving, on and on, just asking how they can help, and what to do. Later, we got the unofficial name of the Felshtin Bees Women's Battalion. In my Facebook posts, for security reasons, I just wrote “Tomorrow the same people in the same house“ and everyone knew where to go and that there would be enough work for everyone.

And then there were dressmakers who found themselves out of work because their shops were closed, but they agreed to sew for the army for free. And we sewed! We sewed mats and pillows for our defenders to comfortably and warmly sit on! There were hundreds of them. Where did we get the fabric and textile? Don’t bother asking, I can write a separate article about it. Entrepreneurs, warehouses, volunteers…

Do you think that is it? HA-HA. No. This was just the beginning. People brought apples. They rotted. We decided to dry them. Then energy bars were made from dried nuts, honey and apples.

Then we ran out of the basics for grids. A local fisherman shared the technology of netting. And voila - our “bees“ are already weaving the basics on their own! And we also started sewing eco-mattresses! Yes, you read that right – mat-tresses! There is a mill nearby - we take buckwheat husks from them and stuff it into mattresses!

Then we were offered to make canned fish. How could we refuse? A ton of fish on the first day was a challenge! Our bees flew up and in four hours - cleaned, cut, washed, folded and sent 1204 cans of canned fish to the plant! And two days later there were one and a half tons of fish. And on Monday there will be another one and a half. We are ready! Anything to speed up the victory!

The war continues… It kills… It unites…We need help. All our people work for free. But their material and financial resources are exhausted. Fabrics, threads, fuel, products - all these costs are constant and high. We will be grateful for your best help, for your contribution to our victory.

My card number 4149 6090 0924 9394

P.S. I am also sending you a letter from my student Ogorodnik Darya, who at the age of fifteen went to weave nets with her mother every day for a week. No edits on my part.