I am 94, one of the last Second World War veterans in Russia

“I am 94, one of the last Second World War veterans in Russia. I was only 9 when the war started. Too young to fight, so I had to help the Partizans, preparing food and cleaning their clothes. Unfortunately, no one of my family returned from the war. I became an orphan myself but there were no orphanages back then… I was sent back to my village – one of only a few who returned. Mostly elderly, children, and very few women. We had nothing. I was alone, hungry and very sad. The whole village was destroyed and burnt to the ground – including our house. The only solace the rare times we had food in our mouths. We slept in holes in the ground or in hay bales while worked on the rebuilding. From sunrise to sunset we toiled – those too elderly to help gave advice to the young on how to build a house. From the age of 13, I was cutting down trees in the forest to build my own house. I think the reason I have survived so long was that I always paid attention to what I ate. I’d search for apples and berries and mushrooms in the forest – catch fish in the rivers – all hearty, fresh food. Everything was cleaner back then but most importantly, there was no alcohol. I think it should still be banned – it destroyed more Russian people than the war itself. Anyway, my life was hard, I lost many, but looking back I had great times as well, and I am grateful for those memories. This is why my mission now is to help out around here in the orphanage and look after the children as much as I can.”

To Children With Love help transform the lives of abandoned and disadvantaged children through programmes designed to enhance their self-esteem & dignity. They believe all children should be allowed to reach their full potential. Please consider helping the work they do by donating on this link!