The City of Lyman (Donetsk Region) Receives Humanitarian Aid from the UOC of the USA
The City of Lyman (Donetsk Region) Receives Humanitarian Aid from the UOC of the USA

As the ongoing Russian invasion of the sovereign nation of Ukraine enters its eight months, the innocent residents of the areas under attack suffer more and more with each passing day.  Food is scarce, the civilian infrastructure has been destroyed, homes have been demolished, schools ruined, hospitals relegated to piles of rubble.  There is no heat, no electricity, and in some cases no running water.  With winter setting, the cold nights seem to never end as entire families huddle together for warmth, their single source of light being the single candle that weakly flickers in their icon corner, illuminating the sad face of the Mother of God.  Sadly, suffering is nothing new to many of these people, especially the elderly, who clearly remember Russia’s previous attempts to subjugate and destroy the Ukrainian people and identity. 

Having driven past burned-out buildings, countless piles of rubble, shells of entire neighborhoods decimated and destroyed, Archbishop Serhij of Donetsk and Mariupol carefully circumvented bombed streets with burned out shells of vehicles destroyed by Russian missiles before finally pulling up at a village intersection in Lyman, in the Donetsk Region.  Seeing his arrival, the people appeared as if out of nowhere.  Some emerged from underground cellars, others emerged from the rubble that had once been their homes, while others had been surviving in makeshift shelters.

Standing in an orderly line, wincing against the cold breeze that blew and whistled among the remaining structures, people waited patiently for their turn.  Grannies tucked their scarves more tightly around their heads, their trembling wrinkled hands chapped from the cold, while the children hid in the folds of their mothers’ coats, trying to warm their frozen noses. 

Through the blessings of His Eminence Metropolitan Antony, Prime Hierarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and Diaspora, and Archbishop Daniel, Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy, and the generous donations of the UOC of USA, these people saw a glimmer of light that pierced through the darkness surrounding them.  Archbishop Serhij opened the back of the truck to reveal the boxes and bags filled with life’s most basic necessities.   As they prepared to unload the truck the shivering people called out to lead them in prayer.  Even though they were cold and hungry, these people had faith and even in their current misery they called out to the Lord in gratitude, asking His continued mercy upon them and their homeland.  As the elderly men removed their hats, the children peaked out from under their mother’s coats, and everyone bowed their heads, making the sign of the Cross upon themselves and joining their voices in prayer. 

With the conclusion of the prayer, having praised Christ and thanked Him for the bounty before them, the people moved up to receive their bundles.  Each box contained packets of rice and pasta, bread, jars of preserves, cans of beans, while bags were filled with fresh fruit, sweets, and chocolates.  While the children’s eyes widened and they giggled at the sight of chocolate bars, the adults were grateful for the candles and matches which would provide them light and allow them to start fires to keep themselves warm. 

The first to receive a box was an elderly babusia who wiped tears from her eyes as she slowly shuffled forward.  She explained that she was all alone now.  Her entire family – her husband, her children, and her grandchildren had all been killed.  Giving her a reassuring hug, Archbishop Serhij directed one of the nearby men to carry her box to her home. 

She was followed by another elderly lady who walked with the assistance of a walker, unable to stand for long periods of time.  With her were her grandchildren, whose large, frightened eyes and tousled hair bespoke of the daily terror they have endured.

One by one the people received their packages and bags, exclaiming their gratitude that the Church had stepped up and fearlessly assisted them during these tragic times.  Even as they stood calmly awaiting their turn, the sounds of explosions were heard all around, and the ground vibrated as a missile hit nearby.

While many individuals came and stood in line to receive assistance, others were not able to walk, or stand.  These people were not forgotten, as packages were taken to them, assuring that nobody was forgotten.  Throughout the day over 200 families were served, receiving gifts of food, clothing, medicine, and much needed fuel to help see them through the coming days. 

It is with deep gratitude to the hierarchs, clergy, and faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA that these innocent and suffering individuals have been gifted a package of love, the assurance of remembrance, and the promise of prayer.

Promising to return, Archbishop Serhij blessed the people and drove off.  He had a long list of requests that he would try to fulfill in the future – survival kits, medicine, candles, matches, and generators to keep them healthy and warm; nails, glass, plastic film to shore up their damaged homes; flashlights and batteries to light their way; warm clothing, gloves, hats to save them from the freezing temperatures, and at the bequest of the youngest Ukrainians – toys and chocolates.

While the world is already counting down the days to Christmas, the people of Ukraine are counting the days since they were invaded, since they were able to walk through their neighborhood in peace, since they were not frightened of missiles and bombs, since they were not worried where their next meal would come from, and since they began being thankful for having simply lived another day.

With love for the people of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA continues to prayer for their wellbeing and provide much needed life-saving supplies.  Please consider donating to the UOCofUSA Ukrainian Humanitarian Aid fund.

Жителі міста Лиман (Донецької області) отримали гуманітарну допомогу УПЦ США

Цими днями наша Свята Українська Православна Церква США за співпраці із відділом Соціального служіння Православної Церкви України надали благодійну допомогу на деокупованій території Донецької області - у місті Лиман.

Ці люди, яким ми сьогодні доставили гуманітарний вантаж, побачили справжнє пекло на землі…

Побачене сьогодні на цих територіях і задокументоване світлинами  - не можливо описати звичайними словами… Зруйновані будинки, відсутня урбанізація, немає світла, газу, опалення. Багато людей загинуло, а  ті, хто вижили- дуже нещасні.  Велика потреба в медикаментах, сірниках , сухому пальному, теплому одязі та їжі швидкого приготування.

Завдячуючи вірним та доброчинцям нашої Української Православної Церкви Сполучених Штатах Америки, які і надалі підтримують своїми пожертвами, нам вдалося передали допомогу 210-тьом родинам, розвозячи її по всьому місту. Їхній радості та вдячності не було меж, а деякі навіть плакали, що саме Церква не залишає їх на одинці з тими життєвими викликами і потребами, які спричинила ця війна,  а привезла цю їжу і засоби гігієни.

Перед тим, як виносити коробки з провіантом люди попросили про молитву за справедливий мир і перемогу українського війська над ворогом, і це поособливому трепетно та зворушливо тому, що навіть за таких обставим люди покладаються і пам’ятають про Божу присутність в їхньому житті...

Роздаючи благодійну допомогу, знами поділилася своїм болем старенька бабуся, яка розповіла, що у неї загинула вся родина і два внуки... її дім повністю згорів внаслідок влучання ворожої російської ракети, а вона живе у сусідки-куми…  Також в цьому місті дуже багато літніх людей прикутих до ліжка, яким нам також вдалося передати допомогу.

Всі хвилюються як переживуть зиму! А як зраділи місцеві жителі, коли побачили в пакунках виживання свічки, запальнички та інші речі… Для них це щастя. Скільки мало треба для щастя…

Дуже просили, щоб в наступний раз привезли будматеріали. Тому зараз спільно з відділом соціального служіння ПЦУ інтенсивно шукатимемо кошти на генератори, цвяхи, шифер, скло, плівку та інші будівельні мареріали для вілновлення домівок. Діти просили іграшки і БАГАТО цукерок. Також дуже затребуваними єліхтарики, батарейки та ліки від застуди і теплий одяг.

Впродовж  всієї нашої місії дуже чутні були вибухи різних калібрів, які доносилися до нас з лінії ведення бойових дій, оскільки Лиман є прифронтове місто і інколи ворожі ракети обстрілюють його. Коли нашим волонтерам та капеланам виписували перепустки на в’їзд у Лиман, попередили, щоб всю дорогу були у бронижелетах і касках. Адже дуже часто нашим воїнам саме ці речі рятують життя… Слава Богу, що нам вони не знадобилися!

Дякуємо керівництву області за організацію і супровід допомоги всім нужденним .

Також особлива подяка всім вірним та доброчинцям нашої Української Православної Церкви США та Синодальному відділу Соціального служіння ПЦУ за координацію та невтомну співпрацю в служінні українському народу!

Митрополит Сергій

The City of Lyman (Donetsk Region) Receives Humanitarian Aid from the UOC of the USA

Photos by Donetsk Eparchy of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine

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