Mission Ukraine – part 1 – The impact of cooperation

When the world was startled by the Russian invasion in Ukraine at the end of February last year, it was the time for many in Poland to provide aid on an unprecedented scale. For the care of the immense stream of refugees, but also very quickly with all kinds of help to Ukraine itself. Governments only played a limited role in this, a lot was done by all kinds of aid organizations, and probably most of it by the individual population in the country!

The role of organizations such as Bread of Life, and on a slightly different level also Evangelical Poland, to a significant degree was bringing supply and demand together, and to network wherever possible. Because whatever help was offered, this was always through a “chain” with various links, where it was the challenge to connect the best links.

From the first “wild weeks” of large-scale, spontaneous and often fairly uncoordinated help, all organizations involved in aid for Ukraine have experienced development, including some form of “specialization”. Everyone does what he can do best, or where the best contacts are available. One does food transports, someone else accommodation or long term housing, others children’s programs or trauma care. But is that not too fragmentary?

Because the same receiving parties often are in need of multiple forms of help, the idea arose within Evangelical Poland to combine things, and by doing so to possible also inspire others…

And so we set off from 31 July to 8 August with 9 volunteers, including 3 from Bread of Life, for a combined project of 12 different organizations and churches to 5 cities in the relatively safe west of Ukraine.

“Clowns with a mission” from Szczecin organized 9 so-called Festivals of Joy, where a total of 900 (!) children enjoyed sketches and gags with a biblical message, were entertained with huge soap bubbles, balloon models, jumped in an inflatable castle, enjoyed cotton candy, or had their faces beautifully painted…

For all those children, Bread of Life put gift packages together with toys and goodies that we had received through various organizations.

Parallel with these festivals, the churches involved also received a large humanitarian transport – a full truck with 33 pallets of food for babies and small children, of which currently is a specific need.

In addition, we had the privilege of bringing medical supplies to the children’s hospital in the city of Ternopil, accompanied by another children’s program at the beds. The way we were received and hosted by the head of the oncological department was moving, and we will do everything we can to further develop this contact!

All this was possible through financial, material or practical support of the aforementioned 12 organizations. And the effect was more than extraordinary!

Two of the nine volunteers were Ukrainian refugees who now live in Poland, and these young ladies expected that reception would be grateful but fairly formal – nothing of that! The cordiality, hospitality, the emotions and connection were unheard of! The realization that people and organizations want to be involved together has an impact on people. And certainly also on us. I left a piece of my heart there…

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