Six months ago, on Feb. 24, the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. From the beginning, Week of Compassion, through ecumenical partnerships with ACT Alliance and other partner networks, has been and continues to respond both to immediate needs and long-term recovery plans.
The impact of the war is being felt around the world through the energy crisis and food insecurity brought on by the geopolitical situation. At the same time, other crises persist worldwide, and Week of Compassion continues to respond to needs in Afghanistan, eastern Africa, Syria, the Philippines, recent U.S. flooding, and more.
As millions have fled their homes for neighboring countries, and millions more are still displaced within their own nation, the work in and around Ukraine has been strong. Week of Compassion’s partners have provided shelter, food, clothing, job support and training, legal and language assistance, psychosocial and spiritual support, and much more to hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians.
For example, Nadia spent several days with her daughter and her mother at a transition center run by the Evangelical Reformed Church in Switzerland. This gave her time to figure out where to go next, how to get there, and what to do.
Fighting tears, she said, “I am afraid of the situation. In Kyiv, I lived with my husband in a wonderful apartment, I had a car. Now, no one has a normal life. Everyone is on the run. I have no idea what my future will be and if I will ever be able to return. But the main thing is this: We are safe, away from the bombs.”
Crisis response demands this attention to basics first – food, shelter, safety – especially in areas where fighting remains intense, but our ecumenical partners are experienced in adaptability, too.
Hungarian Interchurch Aid opened border welcome points in the early days for those driving and walking across the border, transitioned to supporting those arriving by train shortly thereafter, and have now opened a centralized refugee hub in Budapest to offer wrap-around response serving ongoing needs.
Churches have been at the forefront of the response. Because they are part of the community, churches can respond quickly and then engage for the long haul, serving in a sustained way to meet emerging needs. Clergy also meet people’s spiritual needs, offering prayer and support, and churches are significant contributors of volunteer and financial resources.
Plans are underway for addressing key issues: ensuring children’s access to education while schools are being used as shelters, and providing safe, warm, dignified accommodation during the winter months close at hand. As the war carries on, the needs will not diminish in Ukraine, nor in other parts of the world. Week of Compassion, alongside ecumenical partners worldwide, will continue to support those displaced by the war as long as there is need.