For two years, Chekmenev shot portraits of the homeless inhabitants of the city of Kyiv. According to official statistics, more than 10,000 people in Ukraine’s capital have no place to live and must rely on support from the state and charity organizations. But these statistics are not precise. Only people with ID cards qualify for social welfare and many homeless people lack the necessary documents. The situation worsened after the beginning of the war in the East. More than 1.5 million refugees fled the war zone. Some of them lost everything and had no other choice than to live on the streets.
Around 20 percent of the homeless are over 50 years old and need medical help.
According to government data, there are 35,000 homeless people in the country. Unofficial estimates are much more pessimistic, reaching 200,000 people. State welfare programs have proven highly inefficient. People who find themselves on the streets have to rely mainly on the help of NGOs and charities.
In December 2018, 7 homeless people died, whom I personally knew.
Kadatska Lubov, 65, native of Zaporizhzha. After her husband“s death she began to drink and lost her habitation. Later quit drinking and worked as freelance helper at different places. After the trauma at 2017 became unable to work. Nearly starved to death at abandoned house. She dreams about any habitat. Kyiv, 2019.
Valera Dermansky, 57, homeless. He studied and worked in Kyiv; his profession is an economist. Has a son, 34, and daughter 26, but he hasn’t talked with them for a long time, they all live their own lives. Valera lives with friends or on the stairs or ro
Chorny Victor, 60, native of Zaporizhzha. His wife died, children live in different places. He tried to help the daughter financially by selling his apartment, buying house in the village and giving her the difference. Scammers tricked him into loosing everything. Homeless since 2013. Disabled person since 2014. Children do not want to support him. Viktor says that he is very tired to live on the street and dreams of living the rest of his life in quiet place. Kyiv, 2018
Victor Chubarov, 64, from Russia, lonely, homeless for more than 10 years. In his childhood he dreamed of becoming an astronaut. In his youth, riding a motorcycle while drunk, he fatally knocked down a man. After that, he observed the stars from a prison cell window for seven years. Kyiv, 2018.
Mikhail Rusavsky, born 1955, Rivne region, homeless. At 24, he went to prison for 14 years for murder. In the past, Mikhail worked at the railway, had a family with two children. For the last two years he lives at the railroad station. Kyiv, 2018.
Lydia Sobkevich, born 1938, Kyiv, homeless. She went to live on the street after her only son decided to commit her to a psychiatric hospital. Kyiv, 2018.
Victor, 51, homeless, from Donetsk region. He has been living at the terminal over two years. He lost his eye after he was heavily beaten during his sleep at the railway station. Recently people said that he has died last April. Kyiv, 2018.
Homeless Peter. The next day, Peter died, his heart stopped. Kyiv, November 7, 2018.
Volodymyr Chechel is an orphan, 1966. He was named after Lenin - Volodymyr Ilyich. Last winter, Volodymyr asked for alms at the entrance to Kontraktova Metro. He wanted to get to a rehab center in the winter, but there was no room. He lived in the "house of the dead", a dilapidated house in Podil, from which more than ten homeless people were carried out dead. A month later, February 26, 2019, Volodya died. Kyiv, 2018.
Sytnik Tamara, 71, native of Kyiv. Worked all her life at state institution as engineer. Worked at UKRPYLAD last 15 years. Had a family and a daughter. After her husband died, she became the victim of scammers and ended on the street. She and the daughter lived in the park, until the daughter died. Tamara passed away in May of 2019. Kyiv, 2018
Oleg Mashoshin, born 1956, Odessa. He worked as a builder all his life and used to do everything himself but became disabled. When he went to buy a house in the village, he was robbed. For 9 years he is a beggar and somehow manages to rent a room. Kyiv, 2018.
Pavlichenko Lidia, 72, native of Lviv. Orphanage graduate. Worked at the market selling goods. One day got in car accident. Her only son is given to drunkenness. Homeless for 8 years. Her dream is to be accepted to the nursing home. Kyiv, 2019.
Igor Zaletsky, born 1953, homeless, now a resident of Kyiv. He is lonely, his only son was killed in 1994 in Kyiv. In 2015, a woman who rented a room from him forged documents and sold the apartment. Now he lives under the stairs at the entrance of the apartment building. Kyiv, 2018.
Josip Vilchinsky, 76, Kyiv region. He daydreams that all people would suddenly stop smoking. He has previously undergone treatment in a psychiatric clinic. He lived in a garbage dump in Kyiv during October 2019. Kyiv, 2018.
Kochetkov Volodymyr, 1952, was born in Murmansk. He grew up without father. His mother had problems with alcohol and put him to the orphanage. She told to all her relatives that the child had died. 11 years later his grandfather found out this fact and took him back from the orphanage to Kazakhstan. Volodymyr served three terms in prison until 1989. Last 15 years he has been living and working at the various monasteries. Nowadays he is very ill and asked to help him to recover his documents to have a chance to go to the old people house. Kyiv, 2019.
Pelykh Igor, 59, born in Kyiv. Because of the quarrels with his wife and began to live separately. Unable to work after the car accident and got on the street. Homeless for 10 years. Dreams to live in his own apartment, to which son do not let him come. Kyiv, 2019.
Anatoly Almakov, 68, homeless. He said this: “The woman who bore me abandoned us, her three children. The youngest child died. I was brought up in a school for orphans since I was three years old." He had two children and two grandchildren, but they live very far away and he did not maintain ties with them. He died near the entrance to the subway where he lived his last days. Kyiv, 2018.
Valery Konovalenko, 58, a retired rural teacher, from the Kherson region, two years homeless. Gathers glass bottles and paper, asks for donations at the entrance to Orthodox church building. He has been living on the street for more than a year. Odesa 2019.
Sasha Mardian, born 1955, an Armenian from Baku. 25 years ago, at a railway station in Kyiv he bought and sold train tickets, it was very big money and a then luxurious life. Now he homeless for 9 years. Kyiv, 2018.
Lizogubova Tetyana, 61, native of Nokopol, Dnipropetrovsk region. Lived and worked in Kyiv. During that time daughter checked her out of the apartment and sold it. In 2018 Tatyana lost her job due to trauma. Homeless for 4 years. Dreams to have a surgery, which will restore her functions, so that she can work. Kyiv, 2018.
Kharenkov Oleksandr, 67, Native of Belarus Oleksandr left his home when his wife brought her bossin their home to live with her. He walked to Kyiv on foot. On the way there lost his documents. Lives off accidental works, offered by people. Homeless for 8 years. Dreams to restore the documents and return to Belarus. Kyiv, 2018.
Tamara Tarasova, 77, single, homeless. She lost her apartment in Kiev two years ago as a result of forgery of documents by swindlers. She sleeps at the railway station or on the street. The first year was hard but then she got used to it. Kyiv, 2018.
Zharyi Serhiy, 32, Berezne village, Chernihiv region. Graduate of the orphanage. There was no work in the village and he began to drink. His legs were frostbitten on Christmas of 2018 and they were amputated. Homeless for 2 years. Dreams to have the prosthesis and get vocation to have income. Temporarily lives at the shelter. Kyiv, 2019.
Stepanenko Nina, 69, Stakhanov, Luhansk region. When the war started, she fled to her friend who lives in Russia. Then the daughter of that woman kicked he out of the house and Nina got to live on the street. Volunteers from Moscow helped her to get to the House of Mercy Kiev. Homeless for 4 years. Dreams to have the roof over her head and that no-one will kick her out. Kyiv, 2019.
Bezsmertny Stepan, 50, native of Shershintsy village, Odessa region. Worked at a construction until got the hernia. Used all his money for treatment. Then he was refused the further treatment and was checked out of the hospital. He could not work and became homeless. Stepan passed away in 2018. Kyiv, 2018.
Gregory, 57, citizen of Kyiv. Got a brain injury and lost both legs in the accident. After this his wife divorsed him and refuses any communication with him. Homeless for 8 years. Lives in local hospital. He says everything is fine with him. Kyiv, 2019.