Report From Lyman: A Christmas Eve Plea For Our Sister City

“Lyman was beautiful . We thank Westport for helping us rebuild. We will make it even more beautiful, with the help of our new friends.”

The mayor of Lyman — the devastated Ukrainian town that Westport has adopted, and is raising vital funds for — gave that heartfelt message to Brian Mayer this morning.

This “Lyman” sign is one of the few spots in our sister city left untouched.

As bombs exploded not far away, Brian — the Westporter who co-founded Ukraine Aid International — relayed the mayor’s Christmas Eve message to our town.

Brian’s photos and videos are harrowing, and heart-wrenching. A school was heavily bombed. Apartment buildings and homes lack roofs, windows, even walls. A new play area that residents proudly built was destroyed almost as soon as it opened.

A school in Lyman, where 950 students once studied and played.

The mayor gave Brian and Liz Olegov — a founder of the Alex21 group that partners with UAI and Westport to deliver immediate aid to our new sister city — a tour of Lyman (pronounced LEE-mon).

The need to rebuild apartments and homes is enormous. Assessments have been made as to which can be saved. Brian and Liz can deliver building materials — tarps, plywood and more — so that the salvageable buildings can survive the winter. Full reconstruction will begin in spring.

An apartment building in Lyman. The key right now is to make sure structures like this last through the winter.

Westport has set a goal of raising $250,000 by Christmas Day — tomorrow. That will provide real, immediate,, on-the-ground help — roofs, warmth, water, electricity, communication — for our sister city that was attacked, occupied, ravaged, and now ignored by the rest of the world.

In just 5 days, we’ve raised nearly $160,000. We need another $90,000 by tomorrow night.

Westport: We can do this. Lyman needs us. It could not be easier to donate to the non-profit organization. Just click here. Click the “I want to support” box; then select “Support for the City of Lyman.” Scroll down on that page for other donation options (mail, wire transfer and Venmo.) You can also donate directly, via Stripe (click here). 

The gratitude of the people in Lyman — even before the first truck arrives with building supplies, generators and a truck to haul away the trash and debris that has mounted for months — is palpable.

The mayor says his town feels “cared for” by Westport. A woman fetching water from a well — the only source right now — haltingly introduced herself in English to Brian and Liz, and thanked them and Westport for not forgetting them.

This woman’s husband and son are buried nearby. The lone person remaining in her apartment, she calls herself “the security guard.” Everything she owned was burned in a missile attack.

All week long, Westport has celebrated Hanukkah. Tomorrow is Christmas.

We’ve shopped for gifts, decorated our homes, cooked festive meals. We endured a day of wind and rain; now it’s cold. For most of us — despite whatever kind of difficulties we’ve had this year — life has been pretty good.

Life in Lyman is unfathomably difficult. It’s been a horrific year. Please consider a donation today or tomorrow to our new sister city.

It will be the best holiday gift you ever gave.

Every dollar makes a difference in Lyman. Thanks to the work of Ukraine Aid International and Alex21, every dollar goes directly toward immediate aid. (All photos/Brian Mayer)

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