War in a wheelchair - Doctors of the World

War in a wheelchair


When his legs gave out, Grigory Fomenko relied on the kindness of his neighbour’s to help him survive. Some volunteered to go shopping at the store, while others prepared food for him. Then the war began…

Grigory Fomenko reluctantly remembers the events of 2022. He recalls how the music school near his house was bombed, yet the windows of his apartment miraculously remained unscathed. All the neighbour’s suddenly moved away, leaving him as the sole inhabitant of the five-story apartment building. Sometimes, holding onto the railing, he would descend to the patio to ask a passersby to buy him food.

After some time, he was finally admitted to a hospital and transferred to a nursing home in Kharkiv, where he now lives. There, he finally received a wheelchair that has changed his life. Doctors of the World, with the financial support of the Ukrainian Humanitarian Foundation (UHF), donated six wheelchairs for people with disabilities to that nursing home, with Grigory becoming one of the recipients. For the first time in eight years, he had the opportunity to move. “Now I’m in a very good mood. Every day I go outside. I can breathe fresh air, enjoy nature,” he explains.



The donation of assistive devices is part of the emergency response of Doctors of the World in Ukraine to improve living conditions and access to health, emergency, and care services for vulnerable groups; mainly people with disabilities, the elderly, and people with reduced mobility.

Since this project began last spring, Doctors of the World (Spain) has donated hearing aids, folding walkers, canes, crutches, biological toilets, orthopedic mattresses, and wheelchairs. In total, 221 wheelchairs have been delivered to boarding schools, social protection institutions, individuals, and health centers in the Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhia regions.



Olha Stadnik, 67 years old, has also benefited from this initiative. Coming from a village in Kharkiv, Olha has been living in a geriatric boarding school for seven months. “The wheelchair has helped me live more freely,” she emphasizes. After suffering a stroke five years ago, Olha stopped walking, compounded by the loss of her two children who died in a car accident. When the war broke out, she was evacuated to Kharkiv, and since March 2023, she has been living in a nursing home. “Now I can go see my friend who lives nearby. I also go out every day. My life has changed because now I can interact with people. I am no longer bedridden in my small room,” says Olha Stadnik.



The donation of assistive devices also benefited Oleksiy Fomenko, 58 years old, who has lived in the Kharkiv geriatric boarding school since February 2023. Originally from Kharkiv, Oleksiy’s house burned down, and for a long time afterwards, he had no other option but to live in a shed. When winter came, a district nurse helped him go to the hospital. There he was diagnosed with an illness, that led to his leg having to be amputated.

In February 2023, volunteers took him to the Kharkiv geriatric boarding school. “Here I don’t think about what I’ll eat tomorrow or how to pay for public services. Here, they take care of me, feed me, and even provide me with a wheelchair,” he says. “I met a woman I dream of marrying. Thanks to the wheelchair, I can stay with her. We often walk together in the center’s courtyard,” concludes Oleksiy, whose life has been remarkably improved by the Doctors of the World initiative.