Since February 25, the Caucasus Union Mission chapter of ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency) has been actively involved in the project of providing assistance to refugees from the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
In the Rostov region, refugees were accommodated under normal conditions; food was provided in temporary accommodation centres (TAPs). About 70 percent of the children were sent to school, where they were given textbooks free of charge. What else would be needed?
We need the monotonous things that constitute day-to-day life. Even the refugees of the first wave were forced to leave their homes quickly, and all the things they brought with them were their documents and the clothes they were wearing at the time. At the new place, there is no change of clothes or shoes. Yes, there are textbooks, but there are no knapsacks, school clothes, pens, pencils, rulers—common things we take for granted, but when they suddenly elude us, we understand how necessary they are. Here is a list of things ADRA purchased: socks, shorts, hats, jackets, tracksuits, trousers, shoes, slippers, washing powder. and much more.
ADRA employees and volunteers bring humanitarian aid to people housed in TAPs.
“We coordinated our visits with temporary accommodation centres in the cities of … Gukovo, Shakhty, Donetsk, Taganrog, [and] Novoshakhtinsk,” says Igor Gospodarets, director of ADRA in the Rostov region. The TAPs consist mostly of women with children. Children from orphanages were also evacuated here.
Our task is to deliver the most necessary things, from underwear to outerwear. It happened like this: we contacted the TAP management and found out the needed sizes of shoes and clothes. Then they made purchases and handed out things directly to those in need. However, this time, things didn't go according to plan. We got ready and sorted things into groups and sizes as the head of the TAP unexpectedly ran up with a request to redirect assistance. They brought new refugees.
It was a sad sight; one cannot look at them without pain—children, women, the elderly. Someone was wearing only a bathrobe. The unfortunate people were taken out of the shelling zone. Since the refugees, who arrived a month earlier, partly received some basic needs, we were asked to redirect aid. I was especially struck by the fact that our volunteers, among whom were the women refugees themselves, for whose children, including the purchased items, were also imbued with sympathy and began to pick up clothes and shoes, essentially depriving their own children.
“ADRA works according to the established rules,” says Alexander Maryutichev, director of ADRA Caucasus. “When trouble happens, a situational report on the emergency is written as soon as possible. We take information only from official sources. Then the data is confirmed by a personal visit to the emergency site. So it was in this case. The fact is that this is not the first time we have encountered such a situation. In 2014, when the first refugees from Donbas appeared, ADRA carried out large projects, from humanitarian aid to educational programs with subsequent employment, so that people could fully adapt to the new conditions. At that time, many methods of work were tested, [such as] cooperation with volunteers. Yes, we are very happy and grateful when they help us, [especially] our pastors, but above all, we attract volunteers from among the refugees themselves. As a rule, these are young women who know the needs of their community and environment. It’s not easy for us to arrive, throw bales of clothes, and leave. Things must be sorted by size, by gender, by age. We organise and coordinate the whole process.”
I would also like to note that in early March, in the communities of the Caucasus Seventh-day Adventist Church, a special collection was made for refugees from the neighbouring territory. In order for ADRA to work, it must have funds that can be said to come from heaven. After all, in order for me to donate funds to those who are worse off than I am in a difficult period of economic upheaval, I need to hear the voice of heaven. As a matter of fact, the funds collected by caring people are the same money from heaven. Assistance was rendered to them, which, in the Rostov region, should cover approximately 2,500 refugees.
According to the latest data, ADRA was able to provide assistance to about 100 disabled people, more than 500 children, and almost 200 mothers, as well as 240 elderly people. Work is being carried out in four TAPs and three orphanages. Recently, they began to serve refugees from Mariupol and southern Ukraine.
I would like to conclude with a brief sentiment: When conflicts and wars occur, which side should a Christian take? We all know the answer: of course, the side of God, who calls to us action: “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8, NKJV).
This article was originally published on the Euro-Asia Division’s news site