"As I cross the border and spend a little time with young people my heart is just broken. They are holding on to hope. Please pray..."
According to the UNHCR, about 4 million people have fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries. In this second update, we inform you about the current situation of YFC in Ukraine and in the surrounding countries: Slovakia, Romania, Moldova and Hungary. Videos have been made, testimonies written down and there are so many stories and reports. Stories that bear witness to courage, hard work, faith and compassion, too many to mention here. Many (border) transports (with cars, minivans and trucks), shelter, food, clothing, medicine, supplies, translation, counselling, spiritual support, activities for children, paperwork (visa & documents), cooperation with local authorities, churches and (aid) organisations, help to pregnant women and so on. Pray for our people for energy and provision, many are working long hours. Pray for our brothers and sisters in Ukraine and those who have fled. They are going through an enormously traumatic time and many are still in dangerous circumstances. Pray also for our people in Belarus and Russia, who find themselves in complicated situations.
We are overwhelmed by all your donations, prayers and help. Also the many other Youth for Christ countries across the world that are raising money and offering their help. THANK YOU ALL!
“We cry, pray and serve here as much as we can. In the first days in our region, the enemy blew up an old military unit in Volodymyr Volynskyi and explosions were heard in Lutsk (regional center). Thank God that’s all for now. But we are afraid that the enemy will get to us. From time to time we hear the sirens of air alarms…….Regarding day centers in Volyn: Before the war there were 10. But because of the war, only three of the ten leaders remained on the ground. Others were forced to travel abroad in search of safety. But they keep in touch with the children either online or through other team members.”
“Every day our team brings warm lunches, food packages and bread. All church members join this ministry by sharing and cooking food to the families in need. There is also a big need now in medicine, personal hygiene products and diapers for kids. At this point people still stay in the villages. People are afraid of being thrown out in uncertainty. But we see a big need in helping women and children to evacuate abroad because we often hear explosions, all the time we hear the planes flying over us. It’s psychologically difficult for children and there is a danger that it will stop being peaceful soon.”
(see video above) Youth for Christ Romania host a total of 50 refugees at the moment. 10 of their staff are daily involved with the refugees in the practical way (cooking, cleaning) but also spiritually as they offer counselling, and spiritual support. Besides that YFC Romania also continues to help with transporting refugees and transporting medicine and food.
(See photos above) Youth for Christ Poland Youth for Christ Poland runs a free warehouse with necessities for refugees. They regularly send transports with food, supplies and clothes to the Polish-Ukrainian border. They work with the local authorities to provide accommodation for refugees and support the families they have managed to locate in Krotoszyn. ‘We are going to continue crossing the border regularly. The needs of food and other necessities on the Ukrainian side are enormous.’
They also support the activities of 2 clubs for children, one of which is located in a hall with 2,000 Ukrainians, and the other, which operates in a similar place, but with 7,000 refugees. ‘We find volunteers for it and thanks to the support we will employ a total of 5 women from Ukraine who will look after these children. Kids club are open 7 days a week from 10 am to 7 pm.’
The YFC Hungary team continues to provide transportations and organize accommodations to refugees. They constantly help with the registrations and paperwork which is required when somebody arrives in the country. They work together with local churches and humanitarian aid services. They also do a lot of coordinating work to assist the whole humanitarian process. Often 50-80 people arrive to them all at one time and they coordinate who can go to which shelter place. Attila Halasz (the national Director) and his wife Lidia also give pastoral care especially to pregnant women who need immediate medical help. Lidia is on maternity leave at the moment but she is a midwife so she has a lot of connections to hospitals and doctors and has the knowledge how to help pregnant women. Many volunteers are getting sick because of tiredness and emotional exhaustion. YFC Hungary is willing to have new staff for short turns who are able to step into communications and drive vehicles to the border with humanitarian aid supplies and help with all the coordinating work. Attila is still going across the border and taking needed supplies to Ukrainian shelter places where he already had connections.
Attila Halasz: “When my wife and I lived and served in the West of Ukraine in 2017-2018 we never thought that 4 years later we would organize shelter homes for our dear friends and their friends and families and whoever comes to Hungary. We still have many friends who do not want to leave and they want to help people who come from the war zones. So we keep bringing food, medicines and baby supplies to Ukraine to help there as well. One of the teenage girls who used to come to our programs in 2018 now she and her family is safe and staying at my parents home (in HU) and trying to find out the next step of life. As I cross the border and spend a little time with young people my heart is just broken. They are holding on to hope. Please pray for the young people.”
Youth for Christ Moldova, along with many other citizens of the Republic of Moldova, opened their hearts and borders for the refugees from Ukraine.
So far, they have:
– Prepared 50 accommodation/sleeping places
– Equipped six hot food preparation points near the Ukrainian border
– Facilitated the transportation of refugees
“We can only say that this mobilization is the work of God – no one was left indifferent to the trouble of our neighbours, the working hours have exceeded and each one is ready to serve with whatever is necessary.”
‘I can still see the day when we packed in 15 minutes all that we found inevitable, and left Kyjiv. It had happened the night before the war started. I was sure we will be back in a week. While driving my husband was called back to work. He is a soldier. He had to go back to the capital to defend our country, and me and my children went on. We had quite a few drivers in our car. There was always somebody who arranged our next stop. I recall those moments in misty memories. I could not eat or sleep. I kept watching the news all the time and expected a call from my husband. At the border we met a girl from Youth for Christ in Ukraine who sat in our car and drove us helplessly with a broken heart to this beautiful place (YFC Slovakia). Here I found out that despite everything God has a plan for me. Through prayers my soul started to heal.’
Youth for Christ Slovakia offers refugees accommodation in the following capacities:
Ranch – 75 people; State property in walking distance from Ranch – 16 people; Church and individual properties in neighboring villages – 80 people; a dormitory in neighboring town Liptovsky Mikulas – 90 people. For all these people, we offer:
- Meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks)
- Basic material help – clothes, shoes, beds for babies, trollers, diapers, etc.
- We try to provide a good environment for children – we offer all our conference rooms, outdoor area and dining rooms and keep them open for mothers and children.
- Humanitarian aid coordination and distribution
- Spiritual program – Sunday services, Wednesday evening worship, morning and evening prayers
- Counselling and psychotherapy
- Basic healthcare provided in cooperation with doctors and partner private hospital
- Visa and document administration – we follow all the legislation and provide the refugees help with registration for all offices and other necessary administrative help
We also try to coordinate the migration of people from Ukraine to Slovakia in wider scope and look for other housing opportunities in cooperation with Andriy and his team. We serve as a bridge between other people and organizations who offer help and immigrants who need it.
Another challenge that stands before us is to ensure elementary education for children who are staying here. We are thinking about establishing a classroom here at the Ranch. It is difficult to foresee what will come. We need to make sure people who came to the Ranch have a chance to start again after they overcome the initial shock and trauma. Many of them have no money. We need to give them some basic financial support to enable them to find a job and their own place to live, if possible.