We are saddened by the number of refugees and internally displaced persons that have needed to flee their hometowns due to the war in Ukraine. Since February 2022, 8 million people have fled across the border of Ukraine into other European countries, according to UNHCR.
The war continues as Russia takes over Ukrainian cities in the eastern side of the country. With much of the war being contained in eastern Ukraine, many refugees are returning from surrounding countries to western Ukraine.
According to one of our volunteers, “People would rather be with their families in a country at war than be safe but far away from their loved ones.”
We’re grateful for the way doors have opened up for us to partner with Fight for Freedom in Romania and leaders in Ukraine to provide humanitarian aid during this crisis.
We always encourage our volunteers to be flexible, especially in volatile situations like this crisis. It’s definitely been important while working in Romania and Ukraine. The work we do continually changes as needs change and new visions develop.
With that in mind, here is what our current work looks like.
We are working with Fight For Freedom (located in Romania) to distribute bags of food in a city in Ukraine on Tuesdays and Fridays, handing out 1,500-2,000 bags each time. The packages contain enough food for two people for 1-2 days. Generally, it takes a day to pack 2,000 bags, so our team is in the warehouse on Monday and Thursday preparing for distribution the following day.
On distribution days there are many hours spent on the road, driving an hour from the warehouse in Romania to the Ukrainian border, through customs, and another hour to the distribution site. The distribution takes 1-1.5 hours and then the drive back begins.
We have been receiving food from a donor in the U.S., and they plan to continue sending about 40 tons of food per month.
On the days team members aren’t distributing food, they’re doing construction on the Freedom Center, the refugee center operated by Fight for Freedom in Romania. We are finishing out some rooms that were under construction to make space for people to stay. This includes a lot of sheetrock, tile, and various other projects.
Currently, there are four long-term volunteers in Romania who help with logistical details in the warehouse, with vehicles, and future projects of Fight for Freedom. We are sending shorter-term volunteers as well.
Fight for Freedom has been in contact with multiple pastors in Ukraine, and we plan to start sending food boxes to them for distribution, as well as make 3-4 day long trips into the country to deliver food and medical supplies to their areas. We are looking for volunteers who are comfortable driving manual vehicles and taking long trips to assist with these projects.
There is also a summer camp happening this summer! Approximately 30 kids from Ukraine are coming to the center in Romania for the camp.
There are many other opportunities and visions for the community center and distributions.
Pray that God would give the leaders with Fight for Freedom and i58 wisdom in how and where to help.
Pray that people would find Christ in the middle of this crisis, and that God would provide the resources needed to continue.
God is using this tragedy to touch peoples’ hearts. Here is what one of our volunteers said:
“[We are] interacting with people of a very different language, yet they can feel you care and they are so thankful that you are there and what you are doing for them.”