22nd March 2022 Update
Don Bosco's Salesians throughout Poland continue to join forces to help the victims of the war. The on-going challenge is to prepare housing for refugees which are mostly women and children. Currently, they have housed over 1100 refugees in Salesian works throughout Poland, however this number is dynamic and changes daily.
Community members working with the Salesians have also opened their doors to provide safe housing for Ukraine families. It is estimated at a cost of 15 euro a day per refugee less Polish Government Subsidy it will cost just over 500,000 a month to continue to provide assistance.
Despite the threat of war, Salesians have managed to send dozens of humanitarian convoys to Ukraine, containing medical supplies, food, blankets, power generators, personal hygiene items including 47 tons of flour to make bread. Community members also make their cars available to perform this important work. Churches have been converted into storage facilities where volunteers from Ukraine and Poland participate in the sorting and packaging of donations and provide assistance at reception points throughout cities and at the border of Ukraine.
Over 75,000 Ukrainian children have already started their education in Polish schools, some of them attended Salesian Schools in Ukraine. In addition, the Youth Centres are open and offering special programs such as Polish language courses, medical and legal assistance, psychological support and facilitate the search for places for refugees to live and work.
We are pleased to say with your generous support Salesian Missions Australia has raised over $48,000 for Ukraine Relief. Thank you for your support as we continue to be united and pray for peace.
Natalka’s Story - Only Bread
Natalka’s Story - Only Bread
Without light and heating for days, sheltered in a cellar, with all the shops closed and only being able to buy bread when it was distributed in the streets... this was Natalka's life with her children, aged five and two, before leaving Kharkov three weeks ago.
"The worst thing was the cold for my children, because all I could think about was what I was leaving behind – my husband, but most of all what I was gaining by saving their lives".
Natalka's eldest son, Oleh, often asks about his father. "I have told him that he has gone on a journey, when in fact we are the ones who have travelled".
Until they reached Medyka, the border crossing to Poland, they spent several days on foot, as well as by bus and train. "The worst thing was the cold and the snow, carrying one child in my arms, a big backpack and holding the other by the hand. It is very unfair what we are suffering," she says.
One of the Salesians of the house that took her in tells me that "they arrive with a lot of stress and anguish, even the children, for whom everything is new. One day, out in the courtyard, Natasha heard the sound of an aeroplane and Natalka was in a state of shock as she relived the moments before the bombing".
Natalka tries to talk to her husband every day, but they can't give each other much information either. "It is enough for me to know that he is well and that we are still united. I also console him with the solidarity I have received since I arrived in Poland, especially from the Salesians.
2nd March Update:
The lines at border control posts to leae Ukraine have been inundated by people seeking to escape the violence.
In Ukraine, Salesians are working tirelessly, caring for orphans as well as providing shelter and relief to those in need. Salesian Communities in Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic are actively working with local agencies to protect and take care of as many Ukraine refugees as they can, arranging transport and emergency shelter; providing food, baby formula, clean water and generators for heat and cooking; procuring and distributing medical supplies, blankets and personal hygiene items; whatever the need may be.
UNHCR, the U.N. Refugee Agency, has reported that almost 700,000 refugees have fled Ukraine for neighbouring countries in just 7 days since the invasion begun. Almost all of this number are women, children and the elderly; families have been torn apart as fathers, husbands and brothers have remained in Ukraine to fight (some conscripted, some volunteer). The U.N. has estimated the conflict could produce as many as 4 million refugees.
The conflict has robbed thousdands upon thousands of the most precious time of their lives; childhood.
In addition, Salesians in Ukraine are sheltering minors and their families who have remained in the country. Father Chaban Mykahylo, said, “This situation continues to be tragic. We do not know how long this war will continue, and we must be ready for a long period. There are many victims among the soldiers, but also among civilians. Throughout all of Ukraine, there is a danger of bombing. Our capital, Kyiv, is suffering a lot, as well as the areas bordering Russia. People are fleeing their homes and are in need of our help.”
To help support refugees you may wish to donate to the Salesian Missions Australia via our website Ukraine Emergency Relief Fund or contact our office on 03 9377 6060 or mail your donation to Salesian Missions Australia, P O Box 264, Ascot Vale, Vic 3032.
As each moment passes, more people reach the Ukrainian border and the situation only becomes more dire for all involved.
Donations are tax deductible.
Salesian Missions Australia