АвторAuthor: Yuliya Osadcha | Translation: Roman Klochko
17 June 2022
Forty-two-year-old Evhenii Kompanets has been confined to a wheelchair for eleven years. But this was not an obstacle for him. He and his family found a way to support the AFU. How? Read on.
I have lived with my wonderful family for over a decade. 2001 was a turning point for me. As they say: there is no evil that does not work well. Then I worked as a head storekeeper in a chain of hardware stores. One day I fell from a height. Of course, my staff immediately called the ambulance and I was taken to the Third City Hospital, where my future wife Tanya worked.
In the evening, I was taken for surgery, and her shift had already ended. From intensive care, I was to be transferred at 9 am, and my Tanya was already at work at 6 am, even before the start of her shift. She told me later that she couldn’t close her eyes even for a moment: she was thinking about how I felt all the time.
Since then, we haven’t parted even for a day. She literally lived with me in the same room, taking care of me. She has never seen me walk. It was definitely love at first sight both for me and her. After I had another surgery, they put a metal plate in my spine. Would you quit everything and start living with a stranger in a new setting? My Tanya was able to… how much love there was.
We all started living together: Tanya’s son, whose name is also Evhenii, and the daughter Yana. I fully consider Jana my daughter, and Zhenya even took my last name.
I wasn’t depressed that I wouldn’t walk anymore. I knew that in a wheelchair, you can also achieve success. I converted my car, started driving, and soon I went to Crimea, to Saki, where I met many people who had been on wheelchairs for years. They literally became my mentors: they explained how to get around the city correctly, where to turn.
Back in 2014, in order to at least somehow earn for a living, we began to bake pyrizhky for sale. Here, near our house, from 6 to 8 o’clock in the morning, a bazaar unfolded, where we were selling pyrizhky. To be able to sell hot and fresh pyrizhky in the morning, my wife and I woke up at 2 a.m, began to cook everything and just at 6 a.m. went out to sell. The assortment ranged from pyrizhky with plums, cottage cheese, cherries, apples to potatoes with mushrooms, pate, and cabbage. The pace of our work was frantic, we were very tired… we slept three hours a day. In such a rhythm, we managed to last three years.
One day I started bleeding… I was taken to the hospital, all the check-ups were carried out, no one found out what was the cause. After this case, we put our career in baking and selling pyrizhky on hold.
For me, the first day of the war on February 24 began at 8 a.m., when a friend of mine called me and told about beginning of a full-scale invasion. He is a truck driver, he says to me, “It’s over, Zhenya. I can’t even unload.” I started to monitor the news very actively, like everyone else. And I had not only a hope, but clear confidence in our victory. I wrote to my companion who lived in Russia, and he said to me: “You in Ukraine know nothing about what is really going on, you are all zombied.” And I realized there was no point in even talking to him.
Before the war, we never volunteered. This is our first experience. It all began with our daughter Yana volunteering: she was serving lunches for pensioners in Cherkasy. Then she teamed up with other volunteers. At home of one of them, in the Khimselyshche, they began to gather and make varenyky massively. My wife, Tetiana, also joined them. Our soldiers dubbed them the Varenyky Battalion. They have since become the Khimselyshche Territorial Varenyky Battalion.
And I think to myself: “Hands still remember… Can’t I also make varenyky?”. I suggested to my wife that we deploy a varenyky shop at home. That’s when it all started. Also, we have baked 250 Easter cakes before Easter, half of which was distributed by the charity to the pensioners’ homes, and other half went to the front to please our defenders.
If it were not for my injury, I would have joined the Armed Forces of Ukraine a long time ago. I believe that it is men of my age who should defend the state, and not boys who have not seen anything in this life.
We did everything quietly, did not advertise to anyone. Only acquaintances wondered why we needed so many products. Probably, thought we were making stocks…
We spent all our money: I receive a disability pension of UAH 2,300, and my wife also has a pension for caring for me. We purchased all the necessary products: everything for dough and filling. We decided to start with potatoes with mushrooms and pate separately. All this, of course, is seasoned with pork rinds.
One day, I just decided to publish a post on Facebook. I signed it as «Helping the boys on the front line. Twice a week, 1000 ready-made varenyky (frozen) are sent to the front. Return alive».
After this post, everyone started to like, comment on, and share it en masse. I didn’t even expect such a stir. Immediately, a lot of people responded with an offer to help with food.
I got a bag of flour, a jar of pate and roast, a couple of bags of potatoes, a big pack of onions. I wrote that we constantly need thermal bags. The heat has come and the varenyky will simply not reach their destination without them. Gradually caring people help with bags, but they do not come back to us, so there is always a need.
The idea also arose to make not only varenyky, but also to cook borshcht. To pack ready-made borscht, you had to buy a professional vacuum sealer. And by joint efforts, the vacuum sealer is already doing its job. The first batch of borshcht went to the defenders. They only need to pour a glass of sprinkle and you can taste home-made borscht. And when the Saturn plant, which is located in Cherkasy, learned that we need a freezer, it presented it to us. Literally yesterday, some strangers put a bag of potatoes in our entrance and left a message for whom it is. We never found out who it was.
We do not disclose the secret of preparing our signature varenyky, we can only say that the dough is brewed. We make dough with a long shelf life. Every evening we cook the liver, fry the mushrooms, cook the potatoes, the filling is cold, then make the varenyky, pack them in bags and freeze them so that the food can reach our defenders in the hottest points. Varenyky come to the boys absolutely ready, they only need to be defrosted: put in the sun and that’s it. This way our fighters can feel a piece of the house, feel that we constantly think about them and support them.
We have no directional assistance. There is no special platoon or battalion we want to help. We treat all boys as relatives.
Volunteers call us and tell us when the car arrives and picks up the gear, and we don’t know where it goes. We only try to fill the freezer as much as possible before the specified day of departure.
From our closest environment, Volodymyr, a friend of my son, is at war. Recently, he took a special leave for three days to come to the birthday of my daughter, Yana. Then we “packed” him with varenyky and other food. This was the only time the food was delivered purposefully.
In each of our transfers with provisions, we add a drawing of our grandson, Vitalii. Boys say that children’s creativity pleases and protects them.
Guys from the front line keep in touch with us all the time, send -photos and -video reports, write thanks on social networks.
Recently, we have received a request from soldiers to make varenyky with cottage cheese. We have been contacted by a volunteer who will supply it. I do not know whether these varenyky will reach the warriors that were asked for, but I will be glad that they will be tasted by all the fighters. After all, defenders in all directions want a tasty meal.
I feel most sorry for my wife. I can help: I prepare a filling, roll out the dough, make varenyky. However, I understand perfectly well that she is constantly on her feet: running, spinning, carrying everything, cooking, taking out, serving, packing… It is all incredibly difficult, especially at the end of the day.
But our fatigue is nothing compared to what the guys on the front line feel. When enemies constantly shelling, and once a week soldiers are allowed to go in the “grey zone” to at least to take dip. The boys tell that the unusual silence then deafens them.
Чому важливо поширити цю історію?
Якщо українці не розповідатимуть свій погляд на війну в Україні, світ поступово забуватиме про нас. Натомість цим обов’язково скористаються росіяни. Тому не даймо їм жодного шансу.
Why is it important to share this story?
If Ukrainians do not share their views on the war in Ukraine, the world will gradually forget about us. Instead, the Russians will definitely take advantage of this. So let's not give them a chance.
АвторAuthor: Yuliya Osadcha | Translation: Roman Klochko