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The situation in the Sumy region is much the same. The end of the week and over the weekend witnessed much military activity with sirens going off more than usual, and then on Monday and Tuesday it was calm. However, on Wednesday afternoon things escalated once again. Last week even the centre struggled for power but normal service has been resumed these past few days. Sadly, the home situation has got worse and they have no power for up to 7 hours at a time which for Bohdan, having to heat a house and feed a family of 4 young children, is a mission in itself. Multiply this around the town and the nation, and it makes for very difficult conditions to have to live in.
I am delighted to say that Larisa and the children reached safety outside of Ukraine over the weekend. The picture above shows them setting off at a very early hour on Friday. The rest of the photos below are of some of their journey. There were 26 children at the orphanage. Every one of them had lost their parents due to the war. However, through some great detective work by Larisa and her team, 20 children were repatriated with other members of their families, whether aunts or uncles, or older siblings. This meant that the 6 that were left had no traceable family, and as such Larisa has taken them off to be with the other children in Austria. It breaks your heart to see children have to suffer like this and we all know it will have a huge impact on their life in the future. Thanks to money previously donated by you we were able to fund the trip and buy their bags for what belongings they had. She was so grateful.
On Friday a service was held and aid distributed afterwards. Many of the 180 people that attended were there for the first time and a church service was all very new to them. They were pleased to be able to meet others and to receive aid and support. The plan isto do this again next week with more people.
The team have also started to support the local police. The police are now supporting local troops who are now forced to patrol around the clock outside the city in the fields and forests. Not only is food given but they have also received some of the Christian booklets and gospels of John we have.
There is more good news in that Sasha (the Sports coach) who left to start his business at the start of the war has returned and very much wants to be part of the work in the future. He had to make some tough decisions over his lifestyle, but realised that although he had more money he had lost his happiness and needed to get back to what he loved doing, with the people he also loved. With a humble heart and with a warm welcome home, Sasha will be helping with sports programmes going forward and will be part of the winter camp team.
The bakery is making slow progress as we have not been able to access electricians because they have been busy trying to get the town supply back up and running. The doors have been widened and equipment is now in and reparations being made. As soon as we can locate an electrician then this can now be finished and used to great effect.
Next week the team have organised a special meeting at the centre to help those with severe learning difficulties along with those who also suffer mental health issues. The local government have asked for their help and so they will hold services, have fun and games, feed them and show them their usual love, care and attention. We are also going to do something special with this group of people over Christmas. Watch this space!
We now have dates for the winter camps over Christmas. I will share more information nearer the time for your prayers as things could change. The first week will be for teenagers and the second week for younger children where presents will be given. Thank you to those that have donated towards the presents as we are already over 50% of the amount needed. If you're able to contribute, please click on one of the buttons at the top of this page.
Throughout Ukraine new meeting points are being formed. I am not sure whether this is part of a government initiative but nevertheless it is proving to be a huge success. It is very similar to the warm spaces starting here in the UK. Out there they are called “Points of Invincibility”. These are spaces where you can drink coffee or tea and where there is light. The centre in Lebedyn has been appointed such a place so we will be able to meet with many people coming in off the street to help them with whatever needs they have.
When I had my video meeting this week with Bohdan there was a reality check that they were all in a war situation. We were drawing our time to a close and the sirens went off. An alert came up on Bohdans phone saying he had to collect one of his children quickly from school (yes, they have just gone back to school this week). The school has no bomb shelter. At that point I saw a change of expression in his face, there was an urgency and attention to the detail only a concerned father could give. Before he ran off he said calmly, please could you pray with us before we go which I did. As we said our “amen’s” his son phoned him from the school to say he was ok but to come and get him ASAP! I have to say it was an emotional finish to see and witness it all. Through donations made early on in the war we were able to purchase a vehicle for Bohdan to use. He got to the school quickly and before many other parents who had no vehicular access and Bohdan being Bohdan filled his car with others as well to hurry them to safety.
This war is lived out day by day with no power, heat or light, shortage of food and the threat of bombs at any time. Across the nation this fear is held by many, so we must continue to pray for peace and an end to this unnecessary suffering.
Thank you for your continued support and help to this amazing team in Lebedyn. It is such an encouragement to them to know of your practical support and prayers.
Founding Director of Hope Lebedyn