Reference : V-P-UA-E-00531
Date : 14/07/2016
Country/Region : UKRAINE
Caption : Donetsk. The ICRC helps families find relatives. Nelia and Sasha in the living room of the house they shared with their son Sergey, who disappeared in fall 2014. Sasha holds a machine used to fix shoes by her son Sergey, a cobbler.
Photographer : HOFFMAN, Brendan
Confidentiality level : public
Publication restrictions : publication without restrictions
Copyright : ICRC
Description : ICRC website article, 05.10.2016: "Ukraine crisis: Uncertainty on both sides of the contact line. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and grandparents of the missing on both sides of the conflict in Ukraine cope as best they can with an impossible, wholly intolerable situation.
Waiting to discover what has happened to their relatives means living in limbo, denied the chance to mourn or a reason to stop hoping against hope. This uncertainty has a severe emotional, social and economic impact on the loved ones of the missing. [...]
Sergey was 36 years old, the oldest of retired university employee Nelia and former metal worker Sasha’s three children. In the neighborhood everyone knew Sergey, the cobbler with a shop down the road. The shop is now closed, but Nelia and Sasha still keep his tools: he might want to use them again once he comes back.
“Sergey had studied to be an accountant, but instead became a cobbler, despite an unfortunate accident at the age of six, which affected his left hand,” says Nelia. “He started to learn the shoe trade after he divorced and moved back in with us. He has a 16-year-old son, our grandchild,” explains his mother.
Nelia says that Sergey is a very good son. Always supportive of his parents, always there for them and ready to help. Nelia feels guilty because the last time they talked, she did something she cannot forgive herself for: “If only I had known... he called me from someone else’s phone to tell me that he had taken a bus towards the front line. I got angry at him and hung up...that was the last I heard of him.”
She naturally tried to call him back, but got the owner of the cellphone that Sergey had borrowed. Nelia took the same bus the day after, and found the woman, but did not find Sergey.
The search for Sergey has continued since then, but without any luck. But Nelia and Sasha have not lost hope. They are sure that he is alive. In the meantime, they are following the news carefully and waiting for Sergey to come back.
The photograph is part of the ICRC exhibition "Uncertainty".
Original material : digital
Resolution : 5760x3840
Orientation : landscape
Colour/B&W : colour