Iryna Smagina is a single mother from Lugansk. Her two teenage sons Myhailo and Tolik were attending summer camp in Odessa when the fighting escalated in Eastern Ukraine. Amidst the myriad of propaganda and uncertain as to who to believe Iryna travelled to Odessa to check on her boys for herself. Little did she know she would never be able to return to her recently renovated 3-bedroom flat and small business.
Tolik, aged 14, was adopted by Iryna when he was 8 years old. His mother was an alcoholic and he suffered regular physical abuse. As is often the case, Tolik never revealed anything of his mother’s actions when social services visited. He is a responsible and hardworking boy and loves sport – football, tennis, volleyball, boxing and acrobatics.
Myhailo, aged 13, also enjoys sports – in particular table tennis – but he has no bat. Myhailo has problems with his eyesight. His current pair of glasses hang awkwardly from his face as they are missing one arm.
Together they now live in Odessa, occupying a single room, but they have been forced to move several times. The boys have changed schools many times which is never easy. As with all teenage boys they just want to enjoy life. The family needs help with the following:
- Vitamins for Myhaylo’s eyes: Superoptica x 2 – 300 hryvnyas (=approx. £10) each
- 5,000 hryvnyas (= approx. £140) for an eye treatment
- New glasses for Myhailo
- A table tennis bat for Myhailo
- Boxing gloves for Tolik and assistance with paying for boxing and acrobatic training
- Clothes and shoes as both boys are fast growing teenagers