Ukrainian Refugee Update
April 17th, 2022
Pictured above is Olga with her son Daniel and daughters Anastasia and Alexandra. Olga thought she could wait out the war, maybe it wouldn’t come to her town. Even after the electricity had been out for 6 days, she still had hoped that things might return to normal. The sirens seemed distant until the day a missile came through her neighbor’s house. It was late in the day and the terrible blast crashed through her neighbor’s house and violently shook their home. The missile had not fully detonated and so neighbors went outside to get a closer view. Her neighbor man’s foot touched it and then it blew off his leg. Shrapnel lodged in another neighbor’s leg, requiring amputation and severely damaged another neighbor’s arm.
They had not been out of their house for 3 weeks during the war and she didn’t realize how badly damaged the roads would be and she didn’t know where they would land, only that they had to GO. With no sleep from the night before they departed their home as the sun came up with their beloved dog ‘Foxy’ in tow. They had to say a tearful goodbye to their husband and father. Olga could not convince her parents to go with them; though in their 70’s and eligible to leave, they said “we were born in Ukraine, we have lived here all our lives and we would rather die here then go”. So, this brave mother started her trek at 6:00am and finally landed in Bucharest at 1:00am the next day, having driven 19 hours and begging her children to keep talking to her so she wouldn’t fall asleep. After a night in Bucharest, one of our partners sent them to Camp of the Good Shepherd! Olga bravely brought her children to safety, a mother’s love not to be denied. Olga is an English teacher and has been such a blessing since they arrived, helping in every manner of translation. They have all settled in and are beginning to acclimate to the serenity and peace at Camp.
Olga and many of our moms watch their phones for any news from husbands, fathers, and loved ones. Some want to watch and know every news detail about the war and others can only look for a while before needing to take a break. Several of our refugees are from Mykolaiv and Odessa and if you have been following the news you know there has been much destruction there this week. The largest water provider for Mykolaiv was destroyed this week and it is a serious concern to our refugees.
The sirens started coming in waves, terrifying flashes of explosions bombarded their windows. Olga’s house does not have a basement and she and her husband gathered their children, laying over them, underneath a spiral staircase in their home. As they huddled together, uncontrollably shaking and crying…she realized she had stayed too long. She had never meant to put her children in harm, she had never wanted to see them shake uncontrollably with fear as she was. As darkness approached, she knew it was too late to start driving. Olga prayed and cried out to God to spare their lives and she would pack what she could in their car and begin driving at 6:00am.
I say it with every update – but it is the wish of the refugees to pass on their gratefulness for all who are providing for their safety and security. They are mindful that ultimately it is the Lord providing for them, but they want to ‘thank’ those that are contributing and have loved them from afar. The wives also say thank you from their husbands who are so grateful for the safety of their families which provides peace and strength for them.
Below: A couple of the children’s art pictures from camp. Everyone is processing in their own way.
This month sees our youngest and oldest refugees celebrate their birthdays at Camp of the Good Shepherd; Victor turned 3 and our oldest refugee, Mr. Anatole turns 73! We celebrated Victor’s birthday April 5th and will celebrate Mr. Anatole’s birthday today, the 17th.
We try our best to carry on with the simple joys of life in the midst of this difficult situation. It IS such a joy to hear laughter and see smiles!
These beautiful cakes were made by a Romanian volunteer –
using her talent to bless those in need.
Our dear friends and partners though we have spent the last month responding to the refugee crisis please know that we also continue with our regular ministry to those in need in Romania. Romania (and Ukraine) follow the Orthodox calendar and so will celebrate Easter on April 24th. We were able to distribute Easter gifts and hygiene items to the children at Turnu Rosu and Hegel Placement Centers this week and will complete our distributions this next week to the rest of the Placement Centers. We will also have a special Easter celebration for our refugees next weekend.
I close this little update again, sounding like a broken record, but with a sincere and heartfelt
again for your generosity of treasure and prayers for all we serve in need in Romania. We especially pray for this Easter week in Romania that the message of the risen Savior of the world will be proclaimed and bring the only true and lasting comfort and life to those in need.
Wishing you all a blessed Easter today, Debbie