Ukraine. The Daughters of Mary Help of Christians from Ukraine, Slovakia, and Poland continue their evangelical presence among the Ukrainian population. In the west of the Country, they are in Odessa, in the center in Kyiv, and in the east in Lviv, open and available to the new calls and needs of the current situation.
Seeing that life – school, university, work – was slowly returning to ‘normal’, the Sisters reopened the houses for female students in Odessa and Lviv, so that they could continue their studies by participating in the lessons. Some still attend online; however, they have asked the Sisters to hold their places for them for when they return.
In Kyiv, where it was possible to resume, from 1 September 2022 the FMA reopened the School for the children, according to the norms: the school must be equipped with an air-raid shelter. The refuge was set up and the School thus reopened its doors to 11 children from the first three classes of Primary. Parents are more appreciative and more relaxed knowing that their children are safe. When the sirens are heard, everyone goes down to the shelter and school continues as usual.
The FMA present in these three cities also collaborate in the parishes, where activities and catechesis have resumed. Attendance is not as high as before, but meeting times are stable and parents know when to accompany children and teenagers. In recent months, the sisters have been able to carry out various initiatives with the children and hold times of formation and prayer: the Rosary in the month of October, the Spiritual Exercises in December, the Feasts of Saint Nicholas and Christmas, the Feast of Laura Vicuña and, of course, the Salesian Feast of Don Bosco at the end of January.
During the conflict, commitments increased for them: their houses were opened to receive, welcome, and distribute humanitarian aid. With all their heart, they continue in this mission, looking for people in need, preparing food and basic necessities, visiting families and elderly and sick people, bringing what is needed, but above all, talking to them, offering the possibility of an encounter.
They did not leave the hospitals, orphanages, houses with refugees, houses outside the city, where people remained to visit. They also try to organize psychological meetings for children and young adults tried by the traumas of war and exhausted by the persistence of the situation of uncertainty.
There is no shortage of aid to the population, thanks to the generosity of various organizations, benefactors, and communities around the world, which contribute with products for personal hygiene and cleaning, medicines, linen, clothes, detergents, with what is necessary for the winter – wood, thermal clothes, power generators – with transport aid, and money to pay the bills.
The Sisters try to educate children and families to keep their hearts open and to share with those who, like them, find themselves in situations of conflict, natural disasters or extreme poverty. For Christmas, together with the children and young people, they in fact prepared sweets and small gifts to take to the neediest parishes.
The Daughters of Mary Help of Christians continue their presence among the people bringing a little light in the darkness – a smile, a kind word, closeness – and concrete support, counting on everyone’s generosity and solidarity. It is possible to send contributions and offerings in the manner indicated on the Website of the FMA Institute, designating in the motive: for the Ukrainian Emergency.