When the fighting in Ukraine started, Irina’s family was torn apart. Her husband, a history teacher, joined the territorial defence force in the first days of the conflict. Irina and her two children sought refuge at her parents’ house. However, she knew it was unsafe because the house lacked a basement, and bombs were starting to explode nearby.
“During the first days [of the war], we tried to tell the children it was thunder. But when the active bombing started and the missiles fell near the house, the children started screaming [and] didn’t want to leave the shelter [of furniture], so they ate there, they went to the toilet there. They were really very, very scared. That is why I realized that there was no time to wait, and it was time to evacuate somewhere,” shares Irina.
Sadly, Irina’s parents did not want to leave, but Irina was determined to find a safer place for her children. Upon heading to the evacuation point, Russian forces started shelling the settlement. Irina was fortunate to see a convoy of cars passing by, and she decided to join them without knowing where they were going because she didn’t have the time to think about it.
The family spent five days in the village the convoy had brought them to, then had to leave there as the war was catching up with them. Eventually, they were able to catch a train to western Lviv—the train journey lasted 20 hours and then another exhausting five-hour train ride to arrive at Batiovo, Transcarpathia.
Irina and her kids found safety at a refugee centre supported by Hungarian Interchurch Aid (HIA) through the ACT Alliance. In the shelter, Irina lives with 90 other refugees. The community shelter volunteers are doing what they can to allow life to continue as normally as possible. Since the war has forced elementary schools to switch to distance learning, Irina’s daughter takes all her third-grade classes online. Her son will start school in the fall.
Families like Irina’s are receiving cash assistance and emergency mental health and psychosocial support. ACT Alliance member Hungarian Interchurch Aid is assisting 14,000 households. In addition, PWS&D is helping provide emergency food assistance and other essential non-food aid, including hygiene kits and medical supplies, to thousands more people.
PWS&D, in partnership with Canadian Foodgrains Bank member Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), will be implementing a response beginning this summer. This response, implemented in Ukraine, Moldova and Romania, will provide cash assistance enabling families to purchase essential items. Priority will be given to the most vulnerable households, including female and single-headed households, children at risk, gender-based violence survivors, and others.
In Ukraine, The Presbyterian Church in Canada partners with the Transcarpathian Reformed Church. Read more here.
With content from ACT Alliance.