Vietnamese in Ukraine struggle with freezing weather

By Hoang Nguyen, Xanh LeNovember 27, 2022 | 11:21 pm PT
Vietnamese in Ukraine struggle with freezing weather
A local resident holds a blanket as she walks near a destroyed building in the Ukrainian village of Horenka on November 19, 2022. Photo by Reuters/Gleb Garanich
Hau is cooking a large pot of rice to prepare for the long power cut in Khakriv, Ukraine. It is snowing heavily and the temperature has plummeted to -10 degrees Celcius.

"They give us a heads up before a power cut so we can have the time to prepare for it. We cook meals and boil the water when electricity is still available," said Hau, a Vietnamese in Khakriv.

Ukraine is facing a tough winter after Russia’s attacks hit its electricity grid and infrastructure in mid-October, raising concerns about people having to withstand extreme cold weather without regular heating.

WHO warned recently that millions of people in Ukraine were facing huge medical challenges due to the shortage of electricity with temperatures that could drop as low as -20 degrees Celsius.

"Without electricity and a heating system, my house is no different from a fridge. Everything is dark and nothing works, from telephone, wifi to cellular data," Hau said.

Power cuts and freezing weather have not only affected his business but also his daily life.

"I locked the door of my shop last night, but when I returned this morning, it was completely frozen. I had to use hot water and a lighter to melt the ice and open the lock, he said.

These days, the temperature in Kiev, where Xuan Khan lives, has dropped to -10 degrees Celsius. The snow is getting heavier while power cuts occur frequently.

"This is already the fifth day of snow. Power cuts occur frequently without any notice in advance; and each time it lasts about 6-7 hours," Khan said. "Without electricity, I can’t cook. I have to use a mini gas stove to boil drinking water."

"Offices also can’t operate during power cuts. It’s difficult and inconvenient for people here," Khan said.

He also said that people in Kiev have become used to the tough conditions.

"People have turned to candles and battery-powered lights when there’s no electricity. We are worried but not scared. Everyone knows this is a war so they have accepted the current circumstance," he said.

The situation has got worse in many localities as power cuts could happen without any notices.

Trinh Xuan Dien, who lives in the port city of Odessa, said: "They just cut the power whenever they want to, without a schedule. It’s fine if they cut the power for a few hours and then put it back on. But last week, they cut the power for three straight days."

"We can’t take a shower without electricity because the water is too cold, although we can still wash dishes and clothes," he said.

Despite the tough living conditions, Dien, like Khan and Hau, accepts the current status and stays positive.

"After living here for many years, my family doesn't want to move anywhere. I still believe in the military and the government, just like other people here," Dien said.

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