UKRAINE: Salesians continue humanitarian aid and support for refugees in Poland and surrounding countries
Missionaries providing generators, food, medicines and medical supplies to those remaining in Ukraine
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries around the globe are responding with aid and other support in Ukraine and the surrounding countries that are taking in refugees. More than 3 million people, mostly women and children, have already fled Ukraine, according to UNHCR, the U.N. Refugee Agency. Poland, which borders Ukraine to the west, has already taken in more than 1.8 million refugees with the number expected to climb. Salesians in Ukraine and in Poland are working on the front lines helping those in need.
On the border between Ukraine and Poland, long lines of refugees form as people wait their turn to cross the border. Father Andrzej Król, delegate of youth ministry of the Poland-Krakow Province and directly involved in the field providing aid, said, “It’s cold, and it’s hard here, for the mothers and children, who are the majority. Most of them don’t know where to go. They go toward the unknown and they only know that once they have crossed the Polish border there are schools where they can spend their first night. We try to entertain the children, make them smile and offer them small things. I think it’s important at this time.”
Fr. Król added, “Fortunately, I see small gestures of loving kindness—people who bring hot soup, sandwiches, coffee or tea and distribute them to people, who are very grateful, and you see the joy in their eyes, despite the tragic situation.”
Father Krzysztof Grzendziński, economer of the Province of Poland-Warsaw, is in charge of supervising the implementation of activities, services and programs in the field in the Salesian provinces in Ukraine strongly affected by the mass exodus of civilians, as well as in Slovakia and four Salesian provinces in Poland.
In addition to providing aid to refugees who are crossing the border, Salesian programs in many countries are accepting refugees into their centers, houses and programs. They are also working with local host families to accept refugees. In the Special Circumscription of Piemonte and Valle d’Aosta in Italy, Salesians have sent funding to Ukraine and identified 118 host families who are willing to take in refugees.
The Don Bosco 2000 Association in Sicily, Italy, which works with the Salesians of Sicily, organized a bus trip to bring 48 women and children from Przemyśl, Poland, to Alcamo, Sicily. Some of the refugees will be housed in an association house while others will reside with 12 host families.
In the Czech Republic, Salesians have taken in 200 refugees, offering meals and services. Salesians are providing economic aid, making cars available for transporting materials and people, and encouraging the inclusion of children in youth centers and schools. Salesians are also offering psychological and spiritual support.
At St. Joseph’s in Szczecin, Poland, 42 people are being housed in the boarding school. There are also 155 people staying in Salesian houses in the Krakow Province and 60 at the Krakow Seminary. Other Salesian centers in Poland are working to prepare for additional refugees. The Krakow Province is also sending aid directly to Ukraine. Eight buses with humanitarian aid carrying approximately 3 tons each, including 12 power generators, food, medicines and dressings, sleeping mats and sleeping bags, and hygiene products, were sent to Ukraine the week of March 7.
Father Roman Sikon, with the Salesian Missionary Volunteer Service, is one of the transport drivers delivering aid to Ukraine. “We hope our journey will be safe and we will come back soon for our next transport because our warehouses are slowly filling up.” Missionaries and their volunteers are providing generators, food, medicines and medical supplies to those remaining in Ukraine. People have been sheltering in Salesian churches and schools throughout the country.
Father Andrzej Policht, a missionary in Ukraine, said, “Our voluntary service works with various organizations and raises funds. We bring people, mainly mothers and children, from Kyiv and Zhytomyr to the border and then they are picked up at the border and are relocated to safety. We have to act and I encourage everyone to do something.”
To financially support humanitarian aid and meet the needs of refugees, Salesian centers around the globe are setting up fundraising appeals and sending money to where it’s needed most. Because Salesian missionaries live in the communities in which they work, they are able to quickly identify needs and directly provide aid. Salesian missionaries still working in Ukraine as well as Salesians in surrounding countries will continue working to provide for those in need.
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UNHCR – Ukraine Refugees