Before the war with Russia escalated, Nadiya O. and her husband lived near the city of Uman, Ukraine. They grew a vegetable garden and kept bees, selling honey to make some extra cash. But shortly after the conflict worsened, her husband died from a heart attack.
Then Russian bombing destroyed their home, burning to ash most of the beehives they had tended together. The ones that remain stand empty and quiet. An unexploded rocket lies buried in what used to be their garden, among the rose bushes. In Ukrainian, the name Nadiya means hope, but her situation left little to be hopeful for.
But a measure of hope found its way to Nadiya O. (last names are not provided for security reasons) when a container full of Mennonite Central Committee canned meat, comforters and other relief items was distributed through an MCC partner, Uman Help Centre.
The container that arrived in Uman was one of five shipped to Ukraine by MCC, each loaded with relief kits, hygiene kits, infant care kits, comforters and canned meat.
Shipping routes into Ukraine have been disrupted. Before fighting escalated, MCC relief supplies could be sent by container ship directly to the Port of Odesa in southern Ukraine, but these containers had to make a much longer overland journey.
Using contents from the five containers, MCC partners in Uman, Kharkiv, Nikopol and a few other places have distributed emergency supplies to more than 16,000 people. Nadiya T., program coordinator for MCC in Ukraine, said a lot of attention is paid to who receives supplies.
“The recipients of material resources are the most vulnerable groups, the people who are in the most critical need,” she said. “People whose homes were destroyed. People who lost their jobs, the elderly people with small pension benefits and people living with disabilities.”
Material resources are not the only way MCC donors are responding to needs in Ukraine. Donations to MCC’s Ukraine response totaled $9.7 million at the end of July. These gifts have provided survival essentials, fuel, comforters, child protection and counseling support to more than 22,000 people. Thousands more received food and emergency kits.
Nadiya T. said the support also provided something intangible — the same measure of hope that Nadiya O. felt.
“Ukraine is facing a humanitarian catastrophe,” she said. “So many people in Ukraine are still suffering, and they feel helpless in the face of circumstances they cannot control. People get tired and discouraged.
“Ukrainians need to know that they’re not alone in this, that there are people around the world who are not indifferent to the suffering. Please keep praying for us. And please keep supporting Ukrainians in the ways you can. Every prayer and every bit of assistance is very meaningful and much appreciated.”
MCC is seeing an increased demand for supplies to send to Ukraine and other countries around the world. The inventory of material resources is getting low. MCC needs comforters; dignity, hygiene, infant care, relief, school and sewing kits; bath and laundry soap bars.