Friends and supporters of MUCH,
Luda, a 60-year-old woman from Bucha, Kyiv region, tells her story of how she and her husband fled from the war. Luda told Sveta:
We spent five days in the cold church basement, without food, without light, without water. The only thing we had was a small radio, and we could listen to the news. At night, cannonades and shelling began. Russian soldiers defiantly drove around the city, smashing shops ….
Before I left Ukraine, I thought: ‘I have a family, a house, a good job.’ When I woke up on February 24, ready to go to work, I had nowhere to go…
I used to think that the value in life is to have a nice house, a car, a nice job. And then, when in a fraction of a second, I was balancing between life and death. I now understand that the most valuable thing is that God saved me, and gave me life. I no longer want a car or an apartment, but only to have life, and a blue, peaceful sky above the earth.
Alyona, mother of two children, from the city of Chornomorsk, says:
“We live in a room in this house for free; we have a roof over our heads; we are protected here! (children play in small pools.)
My dream is for there to be peace in my Ukraine. I want to return to my home and for my children and me to be able to live in our own house. My friends, my relatives, our life, is there; Ukraine is my Motherland.
When Russia started bombing my city, my two-and-a-half year old son began to grind his teeth in his sleep due to nervousness. A few weeks after we arrived in Poland, his nervousness passed. Although he took medicine in Ukraine, it did not help him.
My children (2.5 years and 3 months) and I ran away from the war straight from the hospital without going home. I had only the robe that I was wearing. Here in Poland, people from the organization “Come” gave us clothes. They brought a crib for my daughter, a stroller, and some children’s toys. They provided everything for us that we needed.
We are very grateful to the people of your MUCH mission and the Polish mission, “Come” for the fact that we have shelter here. Thank you that we can stay here and not worry that some disaster may befall us.”
Our friends in Poland from the “Come” organization, which provides assistance to refugees, provided shelter for Luda, her husband, and Alyona with her children. This is a home for refugees where five families currently live. The organization pays rent and utility bills, helps with food and clothing, deals with formal issues, such as registration of children for school and kindergarten, and support in receiving social benefits. They introduce measures for reintegration, job search, and assistance in life difficulties. For a year and a half, Mission Ukraine Children’s Hope sponsored some of the activities of “Come”.
Marek, Rita, and Lusia saw the need for refugees as soon as they began flooding into Poland. They created the organization “Come”. It was operational within a month of the start of the war.
Luda and her husband are seated on the left; Alyona and daughter Marina are on the sofa. Look for that precious little face of her son, Kolya, at the table also on the left. Three of five Ukrainian refuge house families share this wonderful meal at the Refugee House in Krakow, Poland.
In the beginning, this eight room, three story house had seven families, and a single young woman in the eighth room. Four people in one family was the largest, living in one room. Families have come and gone, some returning to Ukraine, others moving on to other parts of Poland, or other countries.
What is the future for the families who live in this refugee house? Luda and Alyona are looking for jobs. Alyona is studying to be a dental assistant, wanting to be financially responsible for her family. Luda, at 60, is having difficulty finding work, but she has the desire to contribute to her family’s cost of living.
Having been part of “living in community”, I can say that refugees may experience a couple of types of culture shock. The shock for me, Mark, began at the border. When I experienced the Ukrainian border patrol, and then the Polish border patrol fifteen minutes later. It is a culture shock of control vs kindness. The culture shock in the refugee house is somewhat like returning to the soviet lifestyle of the “dormitory house”. A family lived in one small room, shared a kitchen and four bathrooms, with seven other families. This step backward, or step down, is not easy for anyone. Imagine the interpersonal relationships. This is a culture shock of its own. It is this way at the refugee house.
Refugees who received help living in this house, for a short or longer time, are very grateful for kindness and care, and for massage for children and adults.
Thank you, people of MUCH, for sponsoring the refugee house in Krakow, Poland during this year and a half. You have touched many lives that have passed through this door.