All six foreign volunteers from the project survived the first four weeks in Donetsk. And yes, I wrote four weeks and not one month on purpose. Many things can still happen before we manage to be alive and breathing the whole first month in this God-forsaken land.
I kid you, dear readers, of course. Donetsk is actually a very nice city. I cannot talk for my five colleagues, but I can surely say that I expected that my adaptation to this foreign land, so different from Portugal, my home country, would be much more difficult. The local people seem much nicer than I expected. What I can tell from my experience so far is that if you approach them on the streets, even if you can’t speak very well (or nothing at all) the local language, they will still strive to try to explain what you want to know. All in Russian, of course. And if you understand absolutely nothing of what they are saying, there is no problem. They will explain it in a different way. Still in Russian. Or in Ukrainian. Which is also not very helpful. There are also some cases when the person that makes the approach is one of the locals. In many cases, several minutes after you told them the magic sentence “я не понимаю” (I don’t understand), they are still rambling about something. In general, Donetsk locals are very pleasant people. Unless… you get into a full bus with them. In that case, for example, that nice old lady on the streets transforms herself into a fat lump of grumpiness and dispair. That cute gril that smiled when you winked at her on the bus stop becomes the most cruel-looking and cold woman you ever saw in your life. And she also seems to like to hurt everybody arround her with her pointy elbows. The fat guy. Oh, don’t get me started on the random fat guy that always walks into the crowded bus with us or is already there… waiting for us. He just occupies a LOT of space in the bus. And he steps on your toes. Way too many times. Like everybody else.
But no harm done. So far we’ve survived the bus trips and it is worth it. With more or less complications, we are starting to work on our projects, we are getting each passing day more acquainted with the local environment and the local people. Sometimes we meet other volunteers, foreign and local ones, from DYDC and even another organizations. We are starting to build our social life in Donetsk. And, most importantly, we know that when we have serious problems, caused by some outside source or even when we simply screw up very badly, we have our extremely nice mentors to guide and help us in any complicated situation. ^^
In conclusion: we are still alive Donetsk! And we are ready to experience everything you have planned for us!
Do your worst!
(Don’t do your worst… please…)