Ukraine: Salesians in Poland provide shelter and aid for refugees – Ukraine

Dozens of humanitarian convoys sent to Ukraine

(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries living and working in Ukraine have to help provide for citizens who have stayed in the country during the conflict. Some Ukrainians stayed only long enough until they could find a safe place to go. Others are elderly and are unable to travel. To date, more than 4 million people have fled the country in search of safety. Those who remain are in need of humanitarian aid, and Salesians are on the front lines helping these families.

Natalka, along with her two children ages 2 and 5, sheltered in a cellar without lighting and heating for days. With all the shops closed, she was only able to buy bread when it was distributed in the street. Natalka said, “All I could think about was what I was leaving behind—my husband, but most of all what I was gaining—saving their lives.”

They traveled for several days by foot, bus and train until they reached Medyka, the border crossing with Poland. Natalka added, “The worst was the cold and the snow, carrying a baby in my arms, a big backpack, and holding the other by the hand. It is very unjust what we are suffering.”

Now that she is safe with Salesians in Poland, she is helping her children to overcome the fear they are still feeling every time planes fly overhead. Natalka worries for her husband still in Ukraine, but he is consoled by knowing that she is receiving support and shelter.

Natalka’s family is not the only family to be welcomed by the Polish Salesians. Across four Polish Salesian Provinces, there are 1,117 places for refugees in Salesian centers. Right now, 500 refugees have received shelter. Salesian missionaries are providing what they can to meet basic needs but they will need more support to be able to continue. Salesian oratories are also providing support for Ukrainian children and their mothers. There is access to free legal and psychological support.

Despite the danger, Salesians in Poland also managed to send dozens of humanitarian convoys to Ukraine. They are bringing medical supplies, food, blankets, generators and personal hygiene items. Thanks to the Salesian Mission Office in Bonn, Germany, Salesians managed to purchase 300 camp beds, pillows and duvets and 600 sets of bed linen and towels.

After Father Michał Wocial, a Salesian in Ukraine, asked for help when an old school bus broke down on one of the various trips to help refugees flee to Poland, Salesian missionaries in Turin, Italy were quick to respond with the donation of an eight- seater minivan.

“It was a priority operation for us,” said Father Jacek Zdzieborski, director of the Salesian Mission Office in Warsaw. “We were able to quickly find a seller of an eight-seater minivan with a large trunk, as was needed. A week later, the vehicle had already been purchased, imported, registered and inspected.” Before arriving at its destination, the van left full of supplies, including a power generator, food, medical supplies and blankets.

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Sources:

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ANS – Ukraine – A van, camp beds, food, medicine… And stories and faces of hospitality in massive Salesian relief operation

Salesian Missions

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