Ukraine Update 09

We know that the news of the war are getting darker and more devastating each day. Hope is so powerful and yet so frail and elusive, it sometimes feels like it’s slipping away between our fingers. It’s easy to succumb to depression, anxiety, rage, even helplessness and fatigue. But we are not helpless. We are continuing to do these little things, taking small steps of faith, of hope, of love and solidarity every single day – and you are the ones enabling us to do it.

Over this past week, our main focus has been on extracting our new friend, the 85-year old lady (Mrs. V) from Dnipro, and this has turned out to be by far the most difficult extraction until now. We have been coordinating with her granddaughter, our international network, and a host of heroes in Ukraine and in Romania, to make it happen. After three long weeks of phone calls, prayers, tears, worries and fears – she’s finally here, safe and sound, resting in a newly built apartment few minutes away from us. We couldn’t be more thankful.

Our first attempt at extracting her was unsuccessful. Because of the active bombing in the region, the team had to postpone their journey a few times before managing to get into Dnipro to pick her up. It’s a long drive, about 14 hours on bad roads, from Dnipro to Cernauti. In her condition, with her leg broken and being unable to stand or hold her own weight at all, the journey required a lot of careful planning and considerations. On Thursday, she arrived in Cernauti, where she was received by some of our trusted contacts. The very next day, she was brought to Suceava. Her granddaughter, a vibrant and courageous young woman who we have got to know and love, flew in from the US to take care of her.

On Saturday morning, as we were driving to Suceava to pick them up, Mrs. V was not in a good condition. The ambulance came and brought her to the emergency room, where the doctors did a wonderful job, checking her thoroughly to make sure everything was ok. She has some wear and tear after the long journey, but she is stable and brave, so we decided to continue with our plan to bring her to Cluj.

I wish we had some pictures or videos to share with you, because we had some beautiful and funny moments together, which I’m sure would bring smiles to your faces.

I wish we had some pictures or videos to share with you, because we had some beautiful and funny moments together, which I’m sure would bring smiles to your faces. Getting Mrs. V from the hospital bed and into our van required three strong men; getting her out of the van and into the wheelchair when we arrived at the hotel, Liviu recruited the help of a couple of men (one of whom turned out to be a Portuguese Chief of Police) who just happened to be passing by. In the end we were a team of ten people (only two of us doing actual lifting), shuffling around to make sure she was comfortably seated in her wheelchair. After getting settled in, we had a nice dinner in the hotel restaurant. Our new young friend from the US told us that her grandmother hasn’t been in a hotel for many years, and this all feels like a dream to her. The evening was characterised by many tears, laughter, hugs and stories. We all slept better than in a long time.

While we were there, Liviu and I also took some time to visit the reception centre for refugees, which is part of the hotel where we were staying. Mattresses were lined up on the floor, and it was warm, clean and comfortable. Some women were resting, their pets sleeping next to them. Kids were wandering around, some were playing with toys laid out on a table in the corner. We asked the volunteers why they’re doing what they’re doing, spending all their spare time serving the refugees, most of them since the very first day of the war. Their answer was simple: “How could we not?” 

While travelling to Cluj the next day, with Mrs. V and her granddaughter, we arranged accommodation and food for a mother who has been travelling with her two kids for the last three days. They’re only staying in Cluj for one night, but at least we could offer them some rest on their journey. Before we went to Suceava, Liviu also received a young lady from Dnipro who came across the border and stayed for a night. She’s related to some of the friends who came from Ukraine in the beginning of the war, and yesterday morning, Liviu took her to the train station so that she could go and be with them. 

We’re continuously getting requests for help – some are extensive and take a long time, and some are quick and easy. We try to respond as best we can, and if we cannot help, at least we can refer them to someone trustworthy who can. 

She was exhausted from the long journey, and so were we, but we enjoyed a simple dinner together, celebrating the fact that she is a survivor and she made it all this way.

In Cluj, we had arranged a beautiful little apartment for Mrs. V, on the bottom floor of a new building, so that she can get in and out easily with her wheelchair. She was exhausted from the long journey, and so were we, but we enjoyed a simple dinner together, celebrating the fact that she is a survivor and she made it all this way. As it happens (and although we don’t talk about it much because many in her family are still there), Dnipro has been under heavy bombing from the day after we got her out of there – so the timing was truly a miracle. We are thankful that she is now living so close to us, so that we can continue to take care of her and serve her. Cluj is one of the best medical centres in the country, so it’s a great place for her to be. 

On a separate but very important and urgent note, we are working on putting together a shipment of a few tons of flour and yeast, for which we have received several requests from our contacts in Ukraine. There are bakeries in Odessa who need to provide bread for the people, but they’ve run out of supplies. We’ve developed good relationship with local government representatives in Cernauti, Odessa and Ismail, as well as with the Romanian authorities, who are offering to provide transportation for the goods that we manage to put together. We’ve negotiated great deals with suppliers of yeast, flour and jam in Romania. We just need to gather the funds to cover the expenses.

And this is where we need your help – your generous donations have kept us going, and have enabled us to keep responding every day to the needs around us. As we expected, now the needs are exploding and, if we can, we want to send shipments of food and other essentials into the deepest corners of Ukraine where they need it the most.

Yesterday, we were informed that an orphanage in Cernauti is preparing to receive 40 orphans from Kharkov, and they desperately need food, clothes and other goods. We want to put together a shipment of provisions for them as well. If you want to be a part of this effort, even if just by letting the people in your community know about it, we appreciate every little bit of help. As always, you can find details of how to give here: (note “Ukraine”).

If you have any questions about what is going on, or suggestions for people we should be in touch with, please do not hesitate to contact us. If you know anyone who would like to contribute or who would like to receive our updates, please tell them to get in touch with us. You can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram ( 

More than ever, we want to say thank you! In big and small actions, you are right there with us in the middle of it all, helping us make it happen.

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