I joined monitors to talk to the people in the villages close to the contact line in eastern Ukraine. We stopped in a village shop. A shopkeeper said that many people left. Her husband is in the war. But she keeps their shop. An older lady approached, crying, saying she is cold. She has money, her son who moved to Russia sends it to her. But no one delivers the coal. Our next stop is the village council. An energetic woman leading it tells us that she organized the community to make the “warm room” for elderly in the village. She is negotiating assistance for repair of the shelled gas pipeline. She will stay. It is her home, it is her community, and she intends to help now and after the conflict stops. We go to a village market. A lady selling meat tells us she worked as a nurse in the near-by hospital that is closed now. Yes, they spent another night in the basement, but the peace will come and they will build again. I am humbled by these women. I will report and embrace. It is for them, we will continue our work.
Aleska Simkic is the OSCE Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine