Christian aid organizations have been on the front line of combating suffering in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, across the United States a number of Christian groups have supported these efforts, including reality television host, Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty Fame.
CityServe International has been one of the most active Christian aid groups involved in ameliorating the suffering in Ukraine, and now hopes to launch a series of branded CityServe Family Centers across Ukraine. The first of which opened in Irpin, Ukraine a community near Kiev that was occupied by Russian forces last year.
Roberston helped raise funds for a unique Christian women’s center in a largely destroyed Ukrainian city.
“I just wanted to be here and get a sense of what it’s like in Ukraine with this conflict”, he told Zenger News. “I have a way better understanding now of the human toll. I think you forget when you watch it on television and you forget that these are real people, real families.”
“We really felt that God had placed us there at the very beginning,” he said.
Dave Donaldson rushed to the Polish-Ukrainian border at the start of the conflict to help Ukrainian refugees. “I’ll never forget walking into the tent and, this young woman, like the age of my daughter, was crying. She was holding her baby tightly. So I went over and gave her a fatherly hug. I don’t know Ukrainian, but I found out later what it meant. She kept saying to me, don’t leave me.”
Those on the trip to Irpin are haunted by the suffering and destruction around them. While reconstruction efforts are well underway much of the city is postmarked by bullet shells and burnt out cars. One resident told the delegation a haunting story from the occupation – a line of Russian tank in a column peacefully passed by a Ukrainian couple in a car – until the last tank in the row inexplicably veered onto the elderly couple killing them.
“The Russian army completely bombed this area, and today, its different, the special needs children have a place to come here,” said Troy Duhon of the Giving Hope Foundation who traveled from the United States for the opening of the center and listened to many stories of despair and hope during his visit.
The opening of the center was attended by local Evangelical Church leaders, Irpen’s mayor, and the American foundations who contributed to the new center the Giving Hope, CityServe and Champion Foundation.
The center provides a safe and stable environment for women and children who have been displaced by the war, as well as those who have been injured or traumatized.
The first floor of the center will be a space for disabled children with families, the second floor will serve as a family center for single mothers and children, and the third, and fourth floors will be living spaces for internally displaced people. The center will also offer hot meals, medical care, counseling, psychological trauma recovery, Christian education, and extracurricular activities.
“The CityServe Family Center will be a place where women and children can heal from the devastation of war and rebuild their lives,” said Dave Donaldson, co-founder of CityServe International. “We are grateful to the many people who have donated to this project, and we are excited to see the impact it will have on the lives of so many families.”
The CityServe Family Center is the first project of its kind in Ukraine. CityServe International plans to replicate the model in other Ukrainian cities, with Odesa being the next target.