Director Andrey’s story is a good illustration of how difficult circumstances are in Ukraine right now. Evacuating isn’t as simple as packing up a suitcase and driving to the border. With over two million people who have fled the country thus far and many still trying to leave, every form of transportation is overwhelmed, drivers are busy every hour outside of curfew, every bed is filled on the way to the borders, and everyone is exhausted.
“The problem we faced,” Andrey wrote, “was that my aunt and her family live in the city of Cherkasy” (normally about five hours from Zhytomyr). “We though it would be quite easy for them to come to Zhytomyr so we could all go to the Polish border together.” At first, no one would take them. Finally, for a fee, someone took Andrey’s aunt, cousin, and cousin’s child to a nearby train station.
“There, by God’s providence, they were able to squeeze into the train and ride for four hours standing, just as we saw in movies about World War II. Then they were transferred to another train, with no toilet. They suffered, the child became ill and began to cough heavily.” They were on that train for sixteen hours.
Andrey and his mother, along with other refugees in their vehicle, picked them up in Lviv, a completely different part of the country from their original plan.
“When we arrived at the train station, we saw again a picture of WWII – crowds of people nervously running from the central entrance, filling every inch of the station square. Volunteers cooked on the street and distributed food to confused people fleeing the bombings in eastern Ukraine.”
Finally all together, they drove to the Polish border. But before that, as they slowly drove through the packed streets of Lviv, a desperate woman approached Andrey’s car. She asked Andrey to pick up her friend.
“To go where?” Andrey asked.
“At least to the station, to anywhere,” she said.
By chance they had a vacancy in the car, so of course they picked her up and took her to the border with them. “Now they are there [in Poland],” Andrey said, “and my wife and children are here in my native Ukraine. We pray they will be preserved there by the Lord, and we will survive here and wait for the time we’ll meet again. Meanwhile we have a lot of work to do.”
As our staff works day and night in Ukraine, we’re thankful for your partnership in the same work through your gifts and prayers and so many other offerings.