I have learned a lot in the last few weeks about what people in Ukraine are experiencing, the fear they feel every day, and the trauma they are enduring on an almost constant basis.
The situation is grim. As I see their faces, I see the toll it is taking on all of them. One pastor explained it in this way. "It is like we are only half alive." Everyone is physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted.
Yet despite the missiles, the air raids, the food shortages, the rolling blackouts, and the fuel rationing, they have a kind of courage and faithfulness that I aspire to every day. Their steadfastness makes me want to keep fighting, to keep going. They never stop giving of themselves, they never stop caring. Not ever.
Despite intermittent news on mainstream media about the civilian consequences of the war, I find it is still hard to really know what people are feeling and experiencing on a day-to-day basis. Hearing from our partners really helped. So I thought that I would share some of the information that our partners have explained to us with you. This is the true cost of this war for the average person.
From Pastor Alexander in Borispol, Ukraine (37 km from Kyiv):
"There are several factories here. One is a food manufacturing company. These factories are open only 3 days a week. People are getting half their normal pay. The company cannot get vital ingredients into the factory and they cannot get the product out to market. Some people are only working 2 hours a week. Many others have no job at all."
"There are more explosions now than at the start of the war, so not much has really changed here. Since the start of the war, 12 missiles have struck Borispol."
"Everyone here feels like the war is going to last a long time."
"We have talked to many women in a nearby village that was occupied by Russian troops. They have shared their pain because they were raped by occupying forces."
But Alexander and his team though tired, are taking action:
"We are going out every Sunday evening to a nearby village to take food to anyone who needs it. We talk with the people and share the hope that we have in Christ Jesus."
"Our greenhouses are like gold right now. They are already producing vegetables. This is what we are relying on to help us feed people through the winter. We know it will mean survival for many."
From Pastor Alexei in Krements, Ukraine (220 from Poland):
"Everyone is hearing about the millions of dollars of aid coming into the country, but as average citizens, we don't see any of it because everything is going to the war effort."
"People in Western Ukraine are putting on a false facade as if everything is ok. They know they are not in the active war zone, so they feel like they can't complain. They have to hide their fear, smile, and pretend. But inside, people feel deep pain and worry."
"There are shortages of everything, even here in the western part of Ukraine. Prices are rising so dramatically that life is unstable"
"Government support for refugees is taking months to process and gives them less than $60 a month to live on."
Despite stress and uncertainty Pastor Alexei and his team in Krements are also taking action.
"We are going to help with the needs of refugee children being housed in the local high school. They need clothing and shoes because many people came with no belongings. Once we meet the needs of this group, we will move on to another."
"We want to provide some hygiene supplies for the IDPs as well. There are thousands of people here."