When driving home from the Commune for female addict in the evening, I could not have imagined that the night would take so long, much less to be so tragic.
On the road home, there was a high-speed car overtaking us at full line, but even after he drove past, he did not return back to the right lane. From the opposite, there came another one and we all expected the first vehicle will turn back. But it was too late.
Sparks and a bang
Fifteen meters in front of us vehicles collided with great force and it was a scene I probably will never forget.
Sparks and a loud bang. A car that overtook us, bounced to the right side of the road, with a wheel detached, which was now flying exactly our way through the air.
P. Vitaliy reacted on time, trying to roll up on the edge of the road, but still, a flying wheel crashed into the front of our car and completely destroyed our front left wheel.
All of us who were in the car; Vitaliy, his mother, Silva and I, were undamaged and at the next moment, when we recovered from initial shock, we all rushed out of the car. I ran to the crumpled car on the lawn beside the road, and to be honest, after what I saw, I had no hope that the driver could survive.
Meanwhile Vitaliy has called for an ambulance. Silva signaled with a phone-lamp and thus was slowing down high-speed vehicles passing by. Passing drivers were not able to see what happened in front. It was dangerous, rubber, shock absorbers, springs, glass, all littered on the road. We had no security triangle nearby, so we had to improvise.
When I approached the unfortunate car, I noticed a creeping driver slowly coming out through the broken car window. His face was bloody, but he insisted that he was all right.
‘Horosho, horosho’ he repeated constantly. ‘It’s OK, it’s OK.’
His passenger was alive and unharmed too. They came out of the car and followed me to our car, where p. Vitaliy was still trying to call for help.
And a second car?
A car that was driving from the opposite was still missing. We searched for it on the other side of the road, in the deep and overgrown ditch, using only flashlights from our mobile phones, which wasn’t easy. On the road, there was a wheel from this car, we were sure of that once we counted all four mutilated tires of the first vehicle.
We were looking further on to direction where the car was headed and on the lawn, approximately one hundred meters away from the accident, finally found the vehicle. The driver stood beside a damaged car, luckily he was not injured. But he had another problem. He was drunk.
Three accidents inside an hour
Shortly after we removed car parts from the road, an ambulance arrived, half an hour later two police officers too. Rescuers have cared for the wounded one and the driver took him to the hospital, police officers swiftly made an interrogations to all parties involved.
“In this last hour alone, it is the third accident,” said one of the policemen. “Just recently, half an hour ago, a bus with fifty passengers crashed into a truck and wounded are still being transported to the hospital.” This happened only a few kilometers away from us!
Apparently, the bus accident was handled over by only these two cops, so they had to move there fast and said they will come back.
Corruption in Ukraine
Vitaliy has called the male commune and some guys immediately brought another car. Silva and mother drove home with them, me and p. Vitaliy waited in our car for the police to return and finish their proceedings.
“It will take at least a couple of hours,” said Vitaliy. “Such things run slowly in Ukraine. And one more thing… When officers asked what happened, tell them like it was, and that’s it. It is not a good idea to interfere in the process, because you could find yourself in trouble. The truth here is not the most important factor.”
I looked questioningly.
“At this point, corruption came into play,” he explained. “It’s all about who’s who or who has more money, who knows someone… Although police officers can write a realistic report, this is of secondary nature in Ukraine. The stronger side will win eventually, irrespective of the true circumstances. By the way, the driver who was driving from the opposite side is in trouble, even if not guilty. He was drunk.”
One can omit the breathalyzer by paying a tariff
When sitting in the car and waiting for police officers to arrive, Vitaliy explained me how things usually take place in the event of similar accidents.
“Accidents here most often occur due to alcohol. If a drunk driver wants to avoid a breathalyzer test, he should pay policeman a high tariff, which many people can’t afford. Therefore, there are often faked injuries and police officers must by law take ‘injured’ people to hospital. The tariffs to avoid the breathalyzer, charged by sisters in the hospital are in fact much lower.”
Quarrel with police officers
The police officers returned two hours later. They verified the circumstances involved and wondered about the course of events. Their attention was focused on a drunk driver and, of course, they intended to take him for a blood sample. At the moment, a white van of four men approached the scene. They were drunk driver’s friends.
P. Vitaliy and I were sitting in the car and listening to the quarrel with the guards. The men insisted that they themselves would drive the man to the hospital (remember, the price of a bribe is more tolerable there). They started physically to push each other and only when the policeman threatened to make a shot, the passions calmed down. The van has finally driven away.
An entire scene of the event twirled inside me. I was angry at the driver who overtook us negligent and caused the accident. At the same time, I felt sorry for the other man, who actually was not guilty, but will probably also be the one who will have to bear the responsibility, as he drove drunk.
Together with p. Vitaliy, we stayed in the car for additional two hours, because we were waiting for a tow. We arrived home much later than we anticipated. God thus had His idea of how to end the day, a day, which was otherwise a very pleasant one and also important for community of addicts here.
Before the accident, we were at the opening of the bakery, which will henceforth be an independent unit next to the female commune. The girls from the community will bake bread and pastries, which will be sold by hotels, shops, bars, etc. This way, the community will become more financially independent.
Last week our work here was more or less bound to help in the opening of the bakery. We installed lighting and assist in cleaning and arranging space for the opening.
Gala opening event was attended by many friends of the community, ex-addicts, the Polish ambassador and some members of the Italian community In Dialogo. On that day, a local community celebrated four years of operation, in addition, Vadim, one of the boys in the community, completed his two-year program. So many reasons to stay joyous and celebrate!
From being a soldier and alcohol addict to return back
Vadim is 45 years old, a soldier by profession. He was married and has a daughter. When the Soviet Union collapsed, so has the army broken up as well. At that time, Vadim, like many other Ukrainian soldiers, lost his job. The loss has severely hit him and he was caught in the trap of alcohol.
Alcohol addiction has advanced so much that he has broken up the family. The apartment in which they lived belonged to his wife and after divorce, he ended up on the street. The fact that in one day he had to drink 3 liters of vodka to avoid the abstinence crisis is eloquent enough.
Like Gena, about whom I wrote last time, Vadim has also been visiting food distribution point for several years. He decided to put an end to alcohol and two years ago joined the community.
Ready to win
The two-year program which is demanding and requires a lot of sacrifices, helped him to again take control of his life. It was very inspiring to watch, when he received gifts of his colleagues and friends from the community! Pride and happiness that came up after winning all those tough inner wars.
He remained being a soldier, ready for battle, ready for tough confrontations and of course, ready for a victory!
What is your motive?
When I once asked Father Vitaliy what he considers the most important fact for a man to be able to save himself from addiction and become free, he said:
‘’You have got to have a motive. For addicts, the first victory is the most dangerous one. When one comes to a commune, all desperate, his initial motive is clear: to stay sober and undergo abstinence. Once this is achieved, he feels relieved and thinks that he’s already saved. He loses motivation and then finds himself at great risk of being caught unprepared by insidious addiction once again.
At this point many fail, leaving the community and return to their old habits. Therefore, these guys regularly talk about their motives: Why do you want to stay sober? What do you want for your future life? What are your reasons?’
Caught in a circle
In fact, this is true for all of us, right? No one is completely free, we all have our own demons that want to harness us to chains and disable us to live freely and fully. So, we often lose motivation to look further our way, towards a goal we want to achieve. At this time, we are being trapped and start spinning in circles.Our view must always be oriented towards God and towards a clearly defined goal. Click To Tweet
To have a motive is to have hope!
From Ukraine to Lithuania
This is how our mission in Ukraine concluded. Our contributions written form Kiev and Odessa tried to show you that God did not forget about Ukraine, despite the fact that things from the outside might look different.
People we met here are well aware of the challenges they face, but also, they know well that they are not being left alone. Faith in God remains unwavering, perhaps stronger than ever. This is the source of life strengths to these people.
What fills them with hope and drives them forward is to imagine a sight they wish to see in the future, rather than looking at the miserable current image.
P.S. The campaign to collect money for a homeless night shelter in Kiev continues, despite the fact that we are leaving Ukraine and travel to Lithuania. By the end of December, we wish to collect €1,000, which would help Depaul organisation to finance the shelter and pay expensive rents. Let this be your Christmas gift for people who have lives less fortunate than yours. Thank you so much!