Ever since the war began, we have been actively engaged in doing charitable work. Our work has mainly benefitted the neighboring population, but it has also been helping others who live far from us, in places that lack basic necessities.
When the war began, we were dealing with the evacuation of civilians from places threatened by military operations. We spent many days and nights supporting terrified people as they made their exodus from their homes to train stations, border crossings or migrant centers that had been hastily set up in convents or schools around the country. Many roads were blocked because of traffic jams, or closed by occupying Russian troops, or were too dangerous to traverse because of ongoing hostilities.
After a few days, and after receiving food from the West, we united with citizens who had stayed behind to help the incoming population. We took migrants into our friaries, prepared food for those camping out in railway and bus stations, distributed food to those living in schools and other properties that were made available by the local population. We also brought food to those who were maintaining order in the city and ensuring the safety of residents and who were keeping the urban infrastructure functioning.
For many months, our friary in Boryspil, near Kiev, has been used as a transshipment point for humanitarian aid. The friars regularly distribute aid to localities east of the city that have been liberated from occupation. We support the neediest inhabitants who, for various reasons, have not left their homes. Many towns and villages were destroyed by retreating Russian troops and deprived of regular supplies of food, electricity and gas. We also provide assistance to the city’s defenders, both to the civil territorial defense and to the military troops remaining in the area.
Another initiative involving the friars is helping to deliver all-terrain vehicles and ambulances to the front for the soldiers fighting in the east. We collected the vehicles from volunteers at the country’s border, delivered them to various automotive service outlets, where they were repaired and adapted to the needs of the army, and then delivered them to the soldiers on the front lines. In addition to vehicles, we have donated clothing, food, personal hygiene products and medical supplies for soldiers as well as civilians.
The location of our friary in Boryspil makes it very useful for hosting volunteers and aid workers who are transporting humanitarian aid. Almost every day we welcome guests to whom we provide accommodations, meals, spiritual support and a place to pray.
We are still currently transporting aid to areas that have been liberated from occupation. To this end, on January 12-13, 2023, we visited the area around the city of Kharkiv. Kharkiv is located forty kilometers [twenty-five miles] from the Russian border. We donated food and cleaning products to the local population and brought power generators for the medical station. Along the way, we visited the Caritas office of the Diocese of Charkiv-Zaporizhzhia [Caritas is a charitable institution], where we learned about the current needs in that region. As a result, we are already preparing for our next trip…
The video of our last trip is available at: https://youtu.be/TGFU_RuvLtQ.
Provincial Custody of the Holy Cross in Ukraine