Olena Sontseslava is working at a war veteran hospital to help herself and others to adapt. For five years, since Russia started its war in Ukraine, Olena volunteered as a paramedic. With no relevant background, she evacuated the injured, and provided help in the hotspots of the war.
Last winter, a terrible mental condition forced her into inpatient treatment at the Lisova Poliana Hospital for War Veterans near Kyiv. Here, she was offered a job that gave her hope for returning to normalcy.
Today Olena brings life to the neglected hospital campus. With her patients, she is reorganizing the old library, having set up an art room for workshops. To keep the veterans busy, Olena engages them with cleaning the area and renovating the greenhouse.
Olena says all this work is healing both for her and fellow veterans. “They need it first and foremost, to be heard, to be able to tell stories they lived through, both funny and sad. Maybe, they also feel that I’m one of them, and I gladly listen because I’m interested”.
Still dealing with her post-war difficulties, Olena isn’t thinking about the future. But if a full-scale war returns, she is ready to go to the front again.
Author: Iryna Matviyishyn
The material was prepared with the support of the International Renaissance Foundation within the framework of the project Stories from Ukraine. The material reflects the position of the authors and does not necessarily coincide with the position of the International Renaissance Foundation.