Innovista’s response to the escalating crisis in Ukraine
One month ago today, the Russian Army invaded Ukraine from the north, east and south. Since then, the world has watched in horror as homes and entire towns are destroyed; as families are separated; as lives are lost. Many Ukrainian cities have become household names – Kharkiv, Mariupol, Sumy, Kyiv – because of the desolation within their walls. UNHCR estimates that 3.6 million Ukrainians have fled their country, and 75,000 children are fleeing each day, according to UNICEF. Millions more are internally displaced. Over the past month, this crisis has been fast-paced, unpredictable and devastating.
Yet through our local team, and the network of local church leaders they have carefully built across Ukraine since 2003, Innovista has been in a position to help.
Looking back – early response
Our team in Ukraine flagged a practical need a few days ahead of invasion in February. Anticipating war, they wanted to stockpile tinned food, bottled water, generators and fuel so that local churches were resourced to serve their communities. Innovista sent $10,000 to enable this. The invasion came three days later.
Listening carefully to our team in Ukraine, this model of supporting pastors to buy supplies quickly became the bedrock of our response in Ukraine. And churches have been serving around the clock: whether in conflict zones, or welcoming internally displaced people, many church leaders committed to staying where they lived, in order to serve others.
Ukraine Response Fund
Since launching our Ukraine Response Fund on 21 February, we have received gifts in excess of £250,000 to support ordinary people in Ukraine, through the local church. If you have given to this fund, THANK YOU. If you would like to give, please click here.
We are using the fund to send grants directly to trusted pastors across Ukraine. Here are some examples of what the grants are achieving:
In Kyiv, pastors have bought food and medicine for the vulnerable, and mattresses for those sleeping in shelters. One pastor, whose church is sheltering many local people in the basement, told us, “Thank God we have been able to go and collect some food for all of us. As soon as the shops are opened we trying to search for something and collect. Nobody knows how long this war will take so all stocks of water and food we getting into our place. We help to buy medicine for some elderly people. Right now the pharmacies don’t have variety of needed medicine and have long lines. So one of our ministries is staying in a long line to help supply whose who need medicine. God is good to all of us at the basement.”
Bucha, a railway town just north of Kyiv, has been the scene of intense fighting. A grant to the church there meant they could support the 130 people living in the church basement.
In L’viv, which quickly became a hub for internally displaced people, churches have been converted into transit centres, with meeting spaces turning in dormitories. A network of Baptist churches are providing 700 beds a night in their churches for people making their way to the Polish border, and hundreds more are being accommodated in their own homes. Innovista grants have contributed to this amazing work, buying food and bedding.
In Kharkiv, food and fuel are being distributed to those who have remained in the city. With Innovista’s support a convoy of vehicles is making the 16-hour drive from L’viv to Kharkiv every few nights, transporting essential supplies into the city.
In Sumy, a local pastor has delivered food and medicine to vulnerable people who can’t be evacuated and are stuck in their homes, as well as helping international students who were stranded in the city when Russia invaded.
In Chisinau, Moldova, essential supplies have been bought with a grant made to churches receiving and caring for refugees. Moldova is Europe’s poorest nation and has received more refugees, per capita, than any other nation.
Innovista’s usual ministry is to train and mentor leaders. We don’t “send” staff into a context, we recruit locals who know the language, culture and context of their place. Just last year, we trained 240 leaders in Ukraine – many of whom are now at the forefront of local aid and relief efforts. In the weeks ahead, we will continue to listen to our team in Ukraine, allowing them to direct our support of the Ukrainian people. One new form of support will be drawing in experts who can offer trauma counselling to the many adults and children who need it.
To make a gift to support our Ukraine Response Fund, please click here.