In the Lugansk region of eastern Ukraine, separatist forces have taken control and declared Lugansk to be an independent republic. For over a year, the Ukrainian military has been fighting to retake the land. Eighty percent of the civilians in the area have fled the fighting, and the twenty percent remaining do so because they are unable to leave. Martha and Victor are in their nineties. Their only child, a daughter Tanya, was killed by an abusive husband many years ago and they have no other family. When the fighting in Eastern Ukraine began two years ago, they had nowhere to go. Now, they are two of the thousands that have no way to find food or basic care in an area where supply lines and their pensions have been blocked. Convoy of Hope Europe has been working to bring physical, social, and spiritual help to people in these communities affected by the war. When our team first met Martha and Victor, and offered to pray with them, Martha said “Pray to God for us to die on our feet. We are over 90 years old and have no one to take care of us.” The team ministered to Martha and Victor, and provided the couple with plenty of food and a much-needed medical exam. Now, Martha says the future looks much brighter. With tears in her eyes she said, “You have given us hope!”
While a working ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine continues to elude the government and separatist forces, winter has officially arrived for the civilians trapped in the crossfire. Many have fled, but many cannot. For those left behind, the bitter cold is an unrelenting foe against which there is little hope. Because of the fighting, most cities and villages are without power and access to natural gas for heat. While the militia fight, people are freezing to death in their homes. Last winter, Convoy of Hope Europe reached out and provided 300 wood stoves for families caught in this desperate situation. These stoves serve a dual purpose. Not only do they heat homes, but they also provide a flat surface for cooking. [su_button url="http://wp.me/P1uiOf-XJ" target="blank" style="flat" background="#ed364b" size="8" wide="yes" center="yes" radius="0" icon="icon: heart-o" class="coheu"]DONATE A STOVE TODAY[/su_button] Surviving in a war zone is difficult in many ways outside of the direct threat of violence. Food supplies are interrupted and businesses close or flee. Jobs are lost, and those left behind are now unemployed with no way to support themselves. Food is scarce even for those who can afford to buy it. Over the last year, Convoy of Hope Europe made a commitment to helping those stranded in the war zone. We provided seeds and gardening tools for families to grow their own food. Many were able to can and store enough to last through much of this coming winter. In addition, we funded a new school for Ukrainians who commit to moving to the towns and villages in the war zone and act as point person for humanitarian aid distribution. These volunteers are trained in supply distribution, reporting, and counseling victims of trauma. Three classes have graduated, and those graduates are now serving in twelve cities and villages along the front lines of the conflict! Now that winter is once again upon us, we want to continue to provide Hope to those who have lost everything. Last winter we purchased and distributed 300 stoves. This year, with your help, we can do more!
The fighting in Eastern Ukraine continues. There are daily exchanges of fire between Ukrainian troops and the pro-Russian rebels, consistently violating the latest cease-fire agreement. Power lines have been down in some areas for over a year, access to clean water is unreliable, and constant shelling has taken its physical and psychological toll on residents in Donbass. In the last six months, Convoy of Hope Europe, thanks to the support of our partners, has been able to provide 300 wood stoves to families living in areas with no power. These stoves provided heat for the remainder of the winter, as well as a cooking surface for families to prepare their food through the summer months. We also supplied seeds for 300 families to plant vegetable gardens. The gardens have been a big success, as the families were able to grow enough to feed their families, with surplus to store for the coming cold months when supply lines are not as reliable. Over the summer months, we were also able to start a training course for Ukrainian missionaries volunteering to move into contested areas, acting as point persons for the humanitarian relief delivered. This course teaches a variety of topics, including administering humanitarian relief, distributing aid in a combat zone, and ministering to people who have suffered physical and psychological trauma. The first class graduated 16 volunteer missionaries who are now serving on the front lines. As the summer begins to transition to fall, it is time to look ahead and prepare for the coming winter. Without a solid ceasefire agreement, and vital repairs to infrastructure, the cold weather will bring an additional set of challenges to residents in Donbass. A snow storm can garner as many casualties as an outbreak of violence, but Convoy of Hope Europe remains committed to continuing our work providing stoves and heat for families without power. We remain committed to reaching Eastern Ukraine physically, socially, and spiritually, but we cannot do it without your help! To contribute to the Ukraine Disaster Relief Fund, click here.
In February, Convoy of Hope Europe (COHEU) received a request to step in and assist with humanitarian efforts in the war zone of Eastern Ukraine. The Donbass region has seen intense action from rebel fighters in the last 18 months, taking its toll on the land and on the people. Teamed with the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) and other organizations from all over Europe, COHEU has taken direct action to address specific needs within these communities. The initial commitment supplied wood-burning stoves for families in cities without power or gas to see them through the rest of the winter. Close to 350 stoves were delivered to five cities and villages, along with firewood to fuel them. These stoves will afford heat and a cooking surface for families until power is restored. We also provided seeds and supplies for over three hundred families to grow and store their own food to help them through this summer and upcoming winter. Between 1,000 and 1,500 loaves of bread and medical supplies are sent daily to cities in the worst-hit areas. Because so many of these areas are still under lockdown by the Ukrainian military as they deal with separatists, this humanitarian assistance is literally the difference between life and death for some of these incredible people. In the last month, COHEU also started a training course for Ukrainians volunteering to move into some of the most dangerous areas to act as point persons for humanitarian relief on the ground. These volunteers make a commitment to coordinate relief distribution in each village, and receive training on working with victims of trauma, communication, and project management. Your support is making a difference! It is impossible to know if this conflict will continue for months or years, but we remain committed to helping the people in Eastern Ukraine through this difficult time. Thank you for making it possible!
03 April – Slavyansk Over the past two days, our Convoy of Hope Europe team member along with our partners on the ground have been traveling throughout eastern Ukraine bringing much needed relief to the people who have been crushed by the continuing conflict in the region. With the sound of shelling and gunfire in the background, they have given out over 2500 loaves of bread, grocery bags filled with food, baby formula, and numerous humanitarian supplies. Yesterday, the team entered a heavily shelled region as the very first humanitarian team to enter that village since the conflict began. The needs were overwhelming, but hope began to break through the eyes of the people as they received bread and other basic supplies. Convoy of Hope Europe continues to be encouraged by your response, and through your generosity, we will continue to lift the hurting with hope and compassionately express His love in tangible ways! Our Convoy of Hope team member writes, “On the way back from a village on Tuesday we stopped at the last check point, which is a regular procedure. The officer at the check-point asked us who we were and where we were going. When we told them we were bringing food to the civilians, the officer asked us how the civilians were doing. We shared that these people were asking for bread. The officer sent one of his soldiers to bring three cans of meat. He said, “It's not my first rotation and I know how hard it is for the civilians to survive. I want to help at least one person". He wrote on the can "For the civilians from the Ukrainian National Guard". This is a really big deal because the government can't even afford to pay their own troops, so this is food they bought out of their own pockets for their own survival and they're giving it away to others.” The soldier responded with what he had in his hand. What will you do with what has been placed in your hands? Please give and do not delay that we may continue to assist these people and organizations as they extend hope to the Ukrainian people. DONATE TO THIS PROJECT. ==== 02 April - Krasnagorovka The team returned to Krasnagorovka with more food supplies for another 1500 people. We also brought basic medical supplies for city residents, and educational coloring books for children showing different types of landmines and how to avoid them. ==== 01 April – Avdiivka The town of Avdiivka is located just north of the Donetsk Airport, one of the hotbeds of conflict since the beginning of the separatist movement. Their close proximity to the major rebel outpost keeps most humanitarian organizations away, though the city is without power and water. Last summer the city was home to over 36,000 people. Now, they have under 10,000. Our Disaster Response Team was able to distribute bread, diapers, baby food, and other humanitarian supplies to over 2000 individuals. The town is in desperate need of water, and the local city government is looking to dig wells to supplement the unstable water supply, though they do not have the funds to complete this project. ==== 31 March - Mironovski The Disaster Response Team loaded with another 1500 loaves of bread and other supplies for Ukrainians in the city of Mironovski, six kilometers from separatist-held Debaltsev. The main bridge across the river had been bombed two days ago, so makeshift tire/track strips covered the gap to allow cars and tanks to pass. Word had been spread about our imminent arrival, and hundreds of people were at the distribution point waiting for the caravan to roll up. There was no time to compile the supplies into an orderly line, so the team distributed items directly from the vans. ==== 30 March - Krasnagorovka Relief workers left for Krasnagorovka loaded with 1500 loaves of bread and other supplies. Due to difficulties with separatist activity near the city, the military had a blockade around the city to keep anyone from entering. A military escort was provided to the Disaster Relief Team as they were allowed to continue into the city. Working with a local church, we were able to unload all supplied into the remains of recently bombed store. Citizens were able to come through the store and were given food, clothes, hygiene products, and diapers. The entire city is without power. Our partner church there manages a soup kitchen, though with the lockdown there is nowhere for people to buy food, even if they had the money to purchase it. The businesses fled with three quarters of the population. The elementary school was bombed one night (no children were killed) but now the kids are not in school. There are no jobs, and the Ukrainian government is threatening to cut off pensions for the old people because of fears the money is being funneled to the rebels. Rows and rows of houses and apartments sit empty. ==== March 25th, 2015 Despite the Minsk ceasefire agreement, consistent shelling in Eastern Ukraine continues to take a toll on the population. Every day, there are new reports of families trapped in the rubble of their homes begging for rescue. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, five million people in Ukraine have been affected by the conflict and are in direct need of humanitarian assistance. Over a million are completely homeless, and thousands have been killed. Convoy of Hope Europe has partnered with CBN and some local NGO’s in the Donetsk region of Ukraine to provide stoves, food supplies, bread, diapers, and other assistance. Each potbelly stove provides heat and a cooking surface for families whose homes have been damaged by the fighting and are available for $50 each. Convoy of Hope Europe also supplies enough wood in the stoves to burn for the rest of the Ukrainian winter, as well as oilskin cloth for window coverings to seal windows destroyed by the fighting. 100 wood stoves have already been delivered, and as of this week, another 200 have been ordered. Convoy of Hope Europe is looking to expand the aid delivered to families in damaged homes, as well as implementing new feeding and resource programs for those stranded in makeshift camps as they await evacuation to safety. Recovery from this type of devastation will take years. Convoy of Hope Europe is committed to working with the people of Ukraine as they rebuild their lives, but we cannot do it without the backing of our supporters. If you would like to contribute to the Ukrainian War Relief Effort, click here.