More than 300 families received grocery baskets in Donetsk, Torez, Snezhnoe, Krasniy Luch, Antratsit, Roven’ky, Sverdlovsk, Alchevsk, Stakhanov and Konstantinovka. The packets contained bare essentials; first of all, halal meat and poultry (those products almost became dainties for the local people), wholegrain cereals, pasta. oil, flour and tea. Most people receive their grocery baskets at the local mosques, however, feeble parishioners have their products delivered by AUASO “Alraid” volunteers.
The Muslims didn’t plan some vast benefit in the beginning, as they weren’t sure in their ability to feed many people. The “bush telegraph”, however, worked fast, so they started receiving proposals to help soon after they started giving food to people. There’s no possible way to send them money directly, so all the charity is brought to Zaporizhzhya Islamic Cultural Centre to be then given to someone going to Donetsk.
They could have bought more food for the same money if the local community had access permit allowing them to go to other regions of Ukraine for buying provision, as products are three to four times more expensive “on the other side”. However, some bureaucratic acrimony don’t let them do so at the moment.
And the youth — what shall the young people do?
Most Muslims try to leave the region as well as the other population. According to Mr.Hamza Isa, head of the AUASO “Alraid” local branch, about 70% Muslims were forced to leave their homes for good: “They left for wherever they could go. Someone had either relatives of friends in other Ukrainian regions, so they headed there; someone had relatives in Russia, so they were forced to leave for Russia. People, who are either too old and feeble, or disabled, or have to care for a disabled relative, or simply have no means to leave at all — those people stayed...”
At the same time, young people have the hardest times now, because pensioners and disabled people can get at least some humanitarian aid from charitable funds — the Rinat Akhmetov Fund — but the young families have neither work to win bread on the table, nor aid. It’s only their old stocks they can count on. However, Muslim pensioners are, at the same time, thrown into dilemma of choosing between food and their beliefs: All meat-containing products of humanitarian aid are for some reason made of pork only.
People Share Their Last
“I can only speak of parishioners at our mosques, so I don’t know the general information for the region. Thus, while our parishioners do get some products not containing meat or animal fat from Rinat Aknmetov Fund in Donetsk region, same social groups of Luhansk region are deprived even of that, as the Fund doesn’t deliver products there. They say there were some “humanitarian convoys” from Russia — but neither of us has ever seen this aid, perhaps such aid (if it does exist) is shared between the families of military people. We haven’t received any aid from Russian Muslim organisations either.
All we have is donations from other regions of ukraine and from abroad — mostly from the students who once studied in Donetsk and now either graduated and left for their home countries or transferred to other Ukrainian Universities, and just unindifferent people as well. It was very touching, for instance, to receive help from one family from Gaza — people are in trouble themselves, but they felt our pain and shared their last”, — Mr.Isa recalls.