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This week has been a calmer week for the team with no camps happening. Instead they have been working on-site with the drainage and development of the playground, and helping those that have come to the Centre.
On Sunday/Monday the 4th camp week starts as they attend a new camp with some of the older children, and those that have worked hard with the puppet theatre. There will be other children from the region there. Bohdan, Farmer Sergey, Svetlana and Valentine will take them as they are going to another campsite where they will actually camp for a week. We hope and pray for safe travel and a great time. Sadly, Lyuba will not be joining them as she still grieves the loss of her baby.
The camp for the teenagers went very well last week despite all the sirens and some visits to the bomb shelter! They didn’t want it to end, and many of them still came to the Centre over the weekend for all the other various activities going on within the church and Centre.
In the Sumy region sirens have been going off every day with missiles launched into the region and beyond. Sumy city itself has been hit many times. The level of activity seems to increase each week. They now estimate that 300,000 soldiers are now encamped along the border with Russia, but they don’t know whether they will attack Sumy or Kharkiv first. Kharkiv would be the best prize for the Russians, but if that city falls it will impact the Sumy region.
In Samotoivka, where Pastor Andrew is based, he hears bombs locally. He has taken in more abandoned and orphaned children. As a result, the government want to move him to a “safer” place, but so far Pastor Andrew is resisting this due to all the work they are doing there by taking in orphans and helping the vulnerable and elderly.
Bohdan has also not heard from his friend Pastor Elijah in the south who I mentioned had been put under house arrest in a previous update. He has tried for the past 2 weeks to contact him, but sadly there has been no response.
Most of you will remember Alla, our children’s worker who left with her family to go to Germany. Her mother-in-law was captured by the Russians and has overcome her injuries. Her husband and Alla’s father-in-law are still stuck in the Donetsk region in Russian occupied territory, and they will not let him out or anyone to see him. For now, her mother-in-law has had to flee to Germany to be with Alla and Tolik. A sad reminder of the brutality and effect on families this war is having.
This week I heard from Larisa and the children of the orphanage. She wrote: “We are still in Austria, trying to find different activities for the kids during the holidays. In all their crafts and drawings, the children show that they want to go home, or have a family. Now we are doing our best to find them parents. We have several tasks. At the moment it is the construction of a bomb shelter in Sumy. We have already done a lot to start it. The second, is to find money to send humanitarian aid to Ukraine”. We will be helping with the aid to the Centre in Sumy, as she said that this past week has seen unprecedented levels of orphaned or abandoned children arrive. Below are some pictures of the children – all growing up fast and missing their homeland.
This week we also received a further quantity of the Jesus Story Book Bible, which the children really love. Every child of a suitable age was given a copy at this year’s camps. We are very thankful for the gift of these. Rather surprisingly 400 kilos of rice came with it!! We are not sure who this came from, but it is helping a lot of families!
Thank you again for your support, for those that pray for the team and the work that is done. It is incredible the level of support that is still happening and we are enormously grateful.
Founding Director of Hope Lebedyn