Aleksey Agapin, 14, is from Vozdvyzhenka, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine, Tuesday 28 November 2017. Aleksey lost a thumb and two fingers when a grenade plug he found exploded in his hand.
“It was in summer, I was going to the pond with my friends to swim there. As we were walking there was a convoy of military passing and something fell off one of the cars. I wasn’t sure what that thing was, it looked like it could be a pen.” Aleksey says. “I picked it up and touched it when it exploded in my hands. My first feeling was shock and pain. I looked down and saw the fingers were hanging from my hand.”
“My whole life has changed,” continues Aleksey, “I can’t do everything I could do before without my fingers, but I’m getting used to it. It’s still hard to do some things. I can’t chop the wood, it’s hard to tie the fishing line, and it’s hard to set the traps to catch animals. Sometimes I’m getting upset up until the moment when I break into tears.”
“There’s a game we play at school,” Aleksey says quietly “you have to do everything with your right hand in it, and I just couldn’t, so I felt like starting to cry. I’m learning how to write with my left hand, it’s not very good yet, but I’m trying.”
For the past two years at Aleksey’s home, there has been no water, electricity or gas. The family heat their home using firewood they chop outside, sometimes in temperatures as low as -20 degrees Celsius. Military positions at the end of the street regularly exchange small-arms and anti-aircraft fire with non-government forces just across the contact line, which divides government and non-government controlled areas, and the deep thuds of outgoing and incoming shells are heard throughout the day.
In addition to these challenges, both Aleksey’s parents are unemployed, and alcoholics. His father worked in a coal mine until a ceiling collapsed on him in 1996, breaking his back. With almost no money for food, the children fish in ponds and use traps