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Refugee Story: The Long Journey from Kharkiv

Meet Alexander (Sasha) and Kristina. This lovely family once lived in Kharkiv. Like so many others this year, they made the difficult decision to leave their home and everything behind in order to survive a terrible war right on their doorstep.

Andrei Shander & Pastor Alexey with Sasha, Kristiana and boys

This sweet family has three sons, the youngest only two months. This means that Kristina and her husband were fleeing from the east while Kristiana was pregnant and with two other young boys. What a dangerous and frightening journey that must have been!

Sasha and Kristina arrived in Western Ukraine, with nothing to their name (like most refugees), and a baby on the way. They decided to end their journey, at least for now, in the city of Kovel.

Kovel is a small city of a little over 69,000 (pre-war) in northwestern Ukraine. This area has seen an influx of thousands of displaced people over the last several months. At the beginning of the war, many people opened their homes and many public buildings were made available for refugee housing. After this many months, many doors are closing to these still suffering people.

The first apartment that Sasha and Kristina stayed in was very temporary. The landlord asked them to leave after a couple of months. They were homeless once more. Then they met a man who opened his own home. It is nothing fancy. It is just an apartment, but he has given this family two rooms in his apartment. Now they share and live together.

Our trusted partner, Pastor Alexey, pastors in both Kovel and Kremenets. These communities are a three-hour drive apart, yet Pastor Alexey works hard to reach people in both communities.

Pastor Alexey has a good working relationship with both local administrations so he can find out who needs humanitarian help in the area. This is how he found Sasha and Kristina and their boys.

We had the privilege of meeting this family a couple of weeks ago when Andrei Shander was in Kovel with Pastor Alexey. With the family in such desperate need, we took them food, vitamin milk for the kids, and diapers for the baby. As Andrei and Alexey ministered to Mom and Dad and the kids, they were so encouraged. They expressed how thankful they were. In truth, we felt like we were the ones who should be grateful that we have the honour of helping refugee families get the care they desperately need.

Andrei interacts with the oldest son

Pastor Alexey invited Sasha and Kristina to come to the Kovel church. A church is more than just a place of worship, it is a community where people find belonging and connection. We were so grateful that we could play even a small part in making that possible for Sasha and Kristina.

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