How do you describe a three day trip that broke my heart and yet brought me so much hope? Tuesday, the US Government put out a travel warning encouraging all Americans living in the Eastern region of Ukraine to leave. This happened just two days before my planned trip to visit with some charities and churches about working together to distribute wheelchairs to people in the East of Ukraine as well as the regions currently occupied by the Separatists.
Firmly believing God has been calling us to provide wheelchairs to Eastern Ukraine and the Occupied Territory, I knew I needed to make this trip to see the needs first-hand. We drove to the city of Kramatorsk, and we passed directly through the city of Slovyansk, the former headquarters of the Separatist forces and the place of heavy fighting and shelling between the two armies last year.
Seeing the devastation was heart wrenching. Many homes and businesses were completely destroyed.
This was a business that was shelled and destroyed in Slovyansk. We only went to one area near the main road to see some of the devastation, I was told not to go elsewhere because landmines have been left behind and many people have been hurt and killed.
Here is a photo of where one of the shells hit. In my hand is a piece of shrapnel from the explosive. There were many pieces lying around and embedded in trees nearby.
On top you can see another house where the roof was partially blown away by artillery fire, there was a lot more damage on the other side of it as well. And the bottom photo is a memorial to the soldiers who fought here.
Circled in red is the city of Slovyansk where I took these photos. Circled in green is the city of Kramatorsk where we slept and visited with some charities and churches. The tiny circle in blue is the city of Artemivs’k where we delivered a wheelchair to one of the churches for someone in the Occupied Territory. Also, I visited two hospitals in this city to find out what supplies were needed and how we can help.
In the city of Artemivs’k I met a young woman named Lena. She has special needs and the family does not have a wheelchair for her, so we took her measurements and will try to find a way to get one to her soon. She was so sweet, it breaks my heart that there are many more just like her in need of a wheelchair on both sides of this war.
After meeting with these churches and charities we hope very soon to begin a partnership to send wheelchairs to be distributed to people in need. Please pray, there is always a lot of paper work and red tape we have to go through to be able to distribute wheelchairs outside of the Kiev region in Ukraine. There is a lot of paperwork for these churches and charities which can be discouraging for them too. I believe all the pieces we need to do this were there on our trip, just pray the Lord will help put those pieces together.
While there was a lot of sad things we saw on this trip, I was greatly encouraged by how many people are willing to help. Kostya and Dennis, who went with me on this trip were so helpful. Thank you to everyone who prayed for our trip.