We continue to support two main ministries: Pastor Volodymyr and his wife Tatiana and their daughters' ministry to displaced Ukranians in the city and villages of Kremenchug, and Mariusz and Kasia, a brave Polish couple, who as I write are close to the front line in Shevchenko, Donetsk region.
Volodymyr continues leading meetings for folks who have been identified by social services as having the greatest need. He conducts a simple church service and provides opportunities for people to seek pastoral help. Anya his daughter, and volunteers from his church, then hand out literature and our family food boxes. Anya has her own ministry taking food boxes to disabled people in their own homes.
Most of the people are from Kharkiv, Kherson or Bakhmut. Kremenchug is considered safe - far enough from the front line but close enough to people's towns and villages to enable them to make the occasional visit.
But Kremenchug often has multiple air raid warnings each day. In the past fortnight a park near the river where Volidymyr was holding an open air meeting in the morning was hit by a Russian missile in the afternoon. They see and hear drones and missiles flying over at night. And the nearby huge petrochemical complex regularly suffers air attacks.
They also go out to the villages around the city. These are subsistence farming communities who have been swamped by refugees, often doubling their population. They take second hand clothes (provided by the churches near 'our' base in SE Poland) and hold meetings in the open air. Often giving out of our knitted Trauma Teddies are a highlight!
Additionally Volodymyr is visiting wounded soldiers in the hospital. He gains access to individual wards with gifts of soap powder (which the soldiers have been having to purchase themselves due to lack of hospital budget) which we buy in bulk in the UK. He is also visiting a big gypsy site beside the city rubbish dump.
We are adding a pair of winter socks to each of our family food boxes for the winter. We pack boxes on a monthly cycle of about 250 boxes which means a trip of 2 or 3 vehicles from the UK every month to SE Poland. From there the Poles use the vans we provided to take the boxes, and other items we have been given (especially bags of the knitted teddies), to Lviv where they are palletised and sent by the Government 'Post Office" by artic. Volodymyr then picks them up from the local Post Office involving multiple car journeys.
Front Line villages
Mariusz and Kasia drive 20+ hours from 'our' village in SE Poland far into Ukraine. They use a van we bought for them and for which we fund the maintenance, and they use body armour and helmets which we supplied. We additionally supply Trauma Teddies and some clothes and food.
They raise money from local churches and collect or buy food in their local town in Poland (they are well known at the border, and are of smaller scale than our family food box shipments so there is no risk of their being regarded as smugglers!). They also take clothing and toys and other donated items to people who are going to really struggle this winter. They help villagers who live very close to the battle lines and who often live in ruined houses and have no running water or power. Make no mistake, these two are heroes who risk their lives on each trip. They recently took a sniper round through the windscreen....which is why we supplied body armour and proper helmets.
We have been given some high quality new winter clothing which we need to get urgently to Kremenchug.
Trips 20 & 21
Trip 19 with 200 boxes is unavoidably delayed in France but will be arriving in Poland en route to Kremenchug in early December (we hope!)Trip 20 is an emergency run to stop Volodymyr running out of boxes. It is being put together at short notice and will leave on 20th October.
Trip 21 will hopefully be a larger 'Christmas' trip with more boxes, lots of clothes, and 200 small toys to be distributed at Christmas parties. It will leave 24th November.
We are looking for drivers and loan vehicles - big hatchbacks, estate cars, 4x4s....
Each trip will last 6 or 7 days. We cover all reasonable expenses but encourage drivers and co-drivers to fund-raise where possible to reduce the cost to the project.