As we enter the month of August, families around the world start preparing their children for the start of the upcoming school year. New clothing is purchased along with bookbags, school supplies, and alarm clocks to ensure the youngsters get up, get dressed, have breakfast, and make it on the school bus on time.
In Ukraine, the children wake to the alarm of sirens warning them of missile attacks. Breakfast is not even mentioned as the children’s stomachs growl from hunger. Instead of new clothing, they wear the same clothes they have worn for the past many days and weeks. Food is scarce and everyone’s thoughts focus on daily survival.
As Ukraine continues to get pommeled by the Russian Federation, the innocent civilians are suffering an unimaginable and unforeseen hardship. Already living in fear, jumping at the slightest sound, hiding in cellars and bombed-out buildings, they now have the added burden of finding clean water for drinking, cooking, and bathing.
Medical issues remain untreated as the roads have become virtually impassible due to all the missile strikes. Medicines, hygiene products, and food items are difficult to acquire. Children are not finicky eaters turning up their noses at mealtime. Instead, they greedily devour what little food is provided for them.
With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Antony, Prime Hierarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and the Diaspora, His Eminence Archbishop Daniel, Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy of the UOC of the USA, and Consistory President, has actively been sending aid to Ukraine thanks to the generous donations of the faithful of the Church. Working through Protopresbyter Kostyantyn Kuznyetzov of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine, the UOC of the USA has been able to send supplies and support Ukraine during these trying times.
Airstrikes have destroyed numerous cities and villages forcing the survivors with nothing more than clothes on their backs to walk long distances to find shelter and assistance in neighboring cities. It is to these cities, over bombed, pockmarked roads with cracked pavement, that assistance is delivered to those in need. Regardless of the air raid sirens and the danger to their own safety, Father Kostyantyn, along with his wife, Natalia, travel to the war-torn areas to reach those who are in the worst need of standard supplies of food and hygiene products.
Unloading their vehicle, they immediately set to filling bags with the essentials of life including canned and non-perishable food items, hygiene products, diapers and baby products, pain killers, bandages, etc. Having heard of their arrival, the elderly with canes and walkers slowly amble towards the gathering. Infants cry as their mothers cradle them in their arms while trying to keep their older children quiet as they carefully and timidly make their way forward. People shuffle towards the gathering wearing their old worn-out shoes, and the clothing that has been on their backs through the pouring rain and the sweltering sun.
In addition to food, the women with children are given a supply of diapers, and candy for their youngsters. A bit of joy in these scary times for the innocent youth. Medicines are provided, pasta, rice, and canned meats. Socks, soap, shampoo, and toothpaste which once seemed so unimportant, are gratefully accepted, and bring unprecedented joy.
Before departing the people gather and are led in prayer by Fr. Kostyantyn. They crossed themselves and bowed their heads beseeching the Lord to grant peace to Ukraine, to safeguard the defenders of freedom, to protect the warriors as they work at protecting the country and civilians, to grant all those gathered good health, and the strength and fortitude they will need to survive the war and rebuild their nation. Having prayed for peace, Fr. Kostyantyn blessed the food items, and the people who had gathered before him, asking the Lord’s Grace upon them all.
With the prayer concluded people began to leave for their own shelters. However, Fr. Kostyantyn and his wife were not yet done. They collected some of the supplies and getting back in their car drove around the destroyed villages, stopping at demolished homes, searching out the elderly and those too weak to venture out in search of safety. Delivering food and medicine to them, he assured them that they are not forgotten but are loved and prayed for.
Please consider being a hero to the suffering people of Ukraine by donating the UOC of the USA Ukrainian Humanitarian Relief Fund.