Food, comfort and hope for Ukrainian Christian refugees

In desperation Irina gathered up her young daughter Lilia and fled through the fields as shells fell around them. There was no designated safe route for civilians to escape the fighting in the heavily contested, occupied region of Ukraine where they lived. 

“It was a harrowing experience,” Irina recalls. Mother and daughter had already endured many months of shelling huddled in basements and bomb shelters with neighbours. At night all the children, including Lilia, experienced panic attacks. 

“We simply couldn’t bear it any longer, especially Lilia,” she said. 

Irina and her daughter fled across the border to neighbouring Moldova. One of the poorest countries in Europe, Moldova is sheltering more than 113,000 Ukrainians fleeing the war.

Barnabas funds food and hygiene parcels

The majority are without an income and are living with host families or in accommodation centres. They depend on their savings and on humanitarian support to cover their basic needs. Their situation is made worse by high inflation.

Barnabas has been helping a church in the Moldovan capital Chișinău as it offers comfort and spiritual support to Ukrainian Christian families. 

We have provided funding for 1,950 food parcels, containing staples such as pasta, rice, flour, breakfast cereal and cooking oil, for the church to distribute to Christian refugees most in need. 

We have also provided 1,000 hygiene packs, including basic essentials like toothpaste, shower gel, soap, detergent and toilet paper. 

Aid funded by Barnabas was an answer to prayer for Katerina

Each family has a unique story 

Most of the refugees who seek the church’s help are women and children who, like Irina, tried to stay in their home areas as long as possible, until the shelling became more than they could bear. Men between the ages of 18 and 60 are not allowed to leave Ukraine.  

“Each family has its unique story, challenges and problems,” explain our church partners. “They have their own experiences dealing with the war and their losses. 

“Some of them struggle to find work in Moldova and, for those who do, the income is often meagre, making it difficult to meet all the family’s needs, including food, housing, clothing and more.” 

They add, “There are many children and they all yearn for simple human warmth and understanding. When they come to us, we see in their eyes that they desperately want us to share their sorrow and experiences, walk even a short part of their journey with them, providing support and comfort. We are grateful we can do that.” 

Our partners thanked Barnabas supporters for funding the food parcels and hygiene kits for refugees. “This assistance allowed us to see them all on a regular basis, to speak to them about God, His love and His care for us all.”

An answer to prayer 

The food and hygiene items were an answer to prayer for Katerina who has very limited means to provide for her ten-year-old daughter Masha and six-year-old son Evgeniy.

Katerina took the heartbreaking decision to leave her husband and Ukrainian homeland because of the strain the constant shelling was having on her children, especially on Evgeniy who developed nervous tics.

Evgeniy’s nightmares continued in Moldova and he regularly woke in tears. She noticed, however, that he calmed and the tics subsided when she began making thread dolls with him. Now she runs an arts and craft class to help other withdrawn and fearful refugee children. 

“Weaving dolls serves as art therapy for them and for Katerina it brings joy and hope,” said our church partners. “She is contributing to the future of the younger generation of Ukraine.” 

Svitlana fled Ukraine at the start of the war with her five-year-old son Misha and her 73-year-old mother. They appreciated “every single item” in the food and hygiene parcels, said our church partners, adding, “They have to be very careful with their money, thinking twice about buying even the simplest basic necessities of food items.” 

Misha particularly cherished the children’s Bible in Ukrainian that they gave him. “We were pleased to serve one more family and touch them with God’s love through providing for their spiritual and physical needs,” said our partners. 

Irina and her daughter endured months of shelling 

Escape from terrifying past 

Irina knows that there is no going back to the life she once enjoyed with Lilia in Ukraine. Their home was submerged when the Kakhovka dam burst in June 2023, destroying everything they had left behind when they fled Ukraine a year earlier. 

She thanks God, Barnabas and our local Moldovan church partners for the support she and her daughter have received. “The time we spent with you allowed us to momentarily escape from our problems and forget, even if just for a little while, the terrifying past. Thank you.”

Christians in Ukraine give thanks for aid miracles

“Thank you to all our brothers and sisters for all you send us …These are miracles for us. God bless you for everything you do.” 

These are the words of our church partner who distributes aid generously donated by Barnabas and food.gives supporters to Ukrainian villagers living in conflict zones. 

We have sent 16 containers with food.gives and medical.gives aid to Ukraine in the 12 months to February 2024. 

The contents included thousands of filled food.gives boxes, pallets of tinned food, supplies of baby milk as well as dried vegetable soup mix and dried fruit from the USA. 

There were also hygiene supplies such as bandages, bars of soap, toothpaste and sanitary towels, plus clothing. 

Ukrainian Christian children with much-needed supplies delivered through food.gives

Ukrainian Christians living in the ruins of their bombarded village, close to the frontline of the war, receive food.gives boxes full of much-needed supplies. Aid was distributed swiftly because of the constant danger of renewed shelling

Stoves and firewood delivered 

Items donated through medical.gives included crutches, walking sticks, leg braces, walking frames and blood pressure monitors. 

In addition, Barnabas has supplied 228 families with wood-burning stoves to provide heat for cooking and warmth for their homes. 

We have supplied 31 larger stoves sufficient to warm a church hall or basement where people shelter. 

We have also supplied Christian families with 240 tonnes of firewood. 

“We thank you very much,” added our church partner. “You are coming to us and help us so much with such necessary items like stoves, wood, food and sanitary aid. 

“Thank you for everything. God bless you all.”

Ukrainian Christians gather up firewood provided by Barnabas

Ukrainian Christian children look through their family’s food.gives box

“Thank you for everything. God bless you all.”

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