Foreword by the Saker: today it is my great pleasure to introduce you all to Faina Savenkova, a young lady from Novorussia whose writings are steadily gaining recognition. I asked Faina to put in her own words how it feels to live under constant Ukronazi artillery strikes and sniper fire. The result is for you to discover below, along with a mini bio of Faina herself. But we had another idea we would like to submit to you: if, after reading Faina’s essay below, you want to ask her a question, please send it to me to my public address [email protected]. Please send your question(s) in English and please make sure to write “questions for Faina” as the subject of your email. I will then collect the questions, translate them into Russia and send them to Fania who will then send me her replies. I think that it is very important to be exposed to the hopes and fears of the regular people of Novorussia, and especially the young ones. I hope that many of you will use this opportunity to not only ask a question, but also maybe convey something to Faina and her family and friends. Finally, I gratefully welcome Fania to our international community – Faina, we are glad and honored to have you with us!
To Believe and to Hope
by Faina Savenkova for the Saker blog
Translated by Scott Humor
Whenever someone asks me to describe life under Ukrainian shelling, I feel lost. Not only because I am still a child, and not simply because I have nothing to say. I just don’t know what they want me to say. Dry and indifferent reports of casualties and destruction? Certainly not. There is news for that. Personal feelings and experiences? That’s more difficult. What is a life during the war? Ordinary, if you don’t remember your peaceful life.
Many people may be horrified to realize that in the twenty-first century in the geographical center of Europe, there are children who don’t remember passenger jets flying high in the sky, walking across an evening city with their parents, or some other cute nonsense that other children don’t even notice.
The no-fly zone and the curfews adjust our lives. That’s why when we read about the riots in some European cities after an introduction of coronavirus curfew, it is puzzling: what is wrong? It’s just a curfew, nothing terrible, why does it bother them that much? The reason for our calmness is actually very simple: everything is known in comparison, and we have nothing to compare.
We are a generation that doesn’t remember a peaceful life. We are a generation that lives by strict rules, the failure of which might result in death. We learned how to determine the direction of the projectiles by ear, so that we know when to worry and when to continue going about our business. We have learned not to ignore the lectures of the Ministry of Emergency Situations on the rules of conduct during attacks, in case of detection of suspicious objects or other recommendations in various situations. And still, no one can guarantee that you won’t accidentally get hit by a shard because you’re just unlucky. Strange? Scared? Everyday life, with a small degree of difference depending on the intensity of the shelling of the territory.
What is life under Ukrainian shelling? It is the evening of June 1st, Children’s Day, when hundreds of paper lanterns soared into the sky at the memorials to commemorate the fallen children of Donbass and light the way for the angels. After all, it is difficult to explain to kids why these angels were robbed of their short lives, deprived of the opportunity to grow up and see the world in our homeland. Now they can only watch from the sky and cry while the adults comfort them.
Almost all of my life and memories are connected to the war, which is why I have no regrets and sadness about the past. I live in the present and occasionally think about the future, in which there is a place for a naive and stupid dream that causes a smile. Quite real, warming and almost tangible, it allows you not to despair even in the most difficult times. I want passenger planes to fly in the skies of Donbass, not paper lanterns. Any dream can turn into a reality. It must be so, and I believe it will be so.
Born in 2008, Faina finished Lev Lopovka Secondary school No. 1 in Lugansk. She is a member of the LPR Writers Union and a junior member of the International Writers Union. Faina is not only an accomplished writer, she is also an athlete and two-time champion of the LPR in taekwondo in her age and weight category.From 2019 to 2020, Faina was a participant of the Republican Festival of the DPR “Stars over Donbass”, where she received a commendation for a significant contribution to the development of cultural relations between the DPR and the Russian Federation in the field of literature from Denis Pushilin.
Her play “Hedgehog of Hope” received a special prize at the All-Russian Children’s Drama Competition in 2019, was shortlisted in the International Competition of Modern Russian Drama “Authors-on the Stage” in 2019, shortlisted in the International Drama Competition “Eurasia-2020” of the Kolyada Theater, published in the literary magazine “Moscow”, and translated into Italian. It was also published in March 2020 in the collection “Shoots”.
Faina has received other distinguished writing awards: a commendation for a significant contribution to the development of literature in the LPR from the Lugansk Republic Joint Venture, a prize of the Moscow Art Theater veterans “Reading Stories”, and the Vice-Grand Prix Moscow literary award 2019-2020 in the category of “Drama” – September 2020.
Her most significant publication, Teachers and Students, was published in the short-story collection Live Donbass (Russian-Donetsk project) in September 2020; the essays Wisteria and a Cat, Hedgehog and the Sky were published in the essay collection The Shore in Kaliningrad;her theater play Die, monster! was published in the collection Wings.
Her short story Wisteria and a Cat became a winner of the Czech contest “The World Through the Eyes of a Child” (2019), published in the magazine Milk (Russia, regional), as well as in the Czech newspaper Halo noviny in April 2020.
Her essay The Laughter of Children of Victory was published in the literary journal The Youth, in the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda and was translated into English, Serbian, Italian, Bulgarian, Czech, Arabic, Italian, French, and German.
Her essay Big Silence (Alive) was translated into English, Serbian, Italian, Bulgarian, Czech, and Finnish, and was published in the famous French English blog Stalker, in Serbian newspapers, in the French Donbass Insider, on kantasuomalainen.net (Finland), AgoraVox (France), and the youth edition of Rubicon (Germany).
With the Russian writer Alexander Kontorovich, Faina co-authored a novel about Donbass children titled Standing Behind Your Shoulder.
This is not even a full list of Faina’s accomplishments. She dedicates herself and her work to telling people in Europe and Russia about the ongoing war in Donbass and the situation of children in the region. She is a regular guest on television channels of the LPR, DPR, and Russia.