Author: Salesian Missions

Publication Date: July 13, 2023

Keeping the Faith in Ukraine

Novohryhorivka remains in the danger zone amid the relentless war in Ukraine that has already plunged nearly 18 million people throughout the country into desperate need for humanitarian aid. As always, our dedicated Salesian missionaries refuse to abandon those in need—despite persistent danger to their own lives.

“I call all those who come to us, angels,” exclaims Olena, one of many area residents whose home and way of life has been completely destroyed. “It is only thanks to the help of such volunteers that we can survive.”

Father Józef Nuckowski, a Salesian missionary in Bibrka, is one of those angels. Although Bibrka is about 13 hours away by car, Fr. Józef has led relief convoys to this danger zone, delivering life-saving supplies and much-needed comfort to people like Olena.

“We suffer a lot, but we stay in our homes,” she says. “Sometimes our houses are ruined … but they are ours.”

This sense of place and pride in her home explains why Olena and several of her neighbors have not joined the nearly 8 million Ukrainians who have fled to neighboring countries in search of safety. Their lives are here, where they rightly feel as if they still belong.

“We have experienced the full harshness of the war since its beginning,” says another of the 55 people still living in the village. “We just hope that all this will end well, that we can rebuild our village and live in peace.”

Thanks to the generosity of many kind friends like you, who have already supported our dedicated Ukraine Emergency Relief Fund, missionaries like Fr. Jósef are making a real difference every day—not only bringing food, clean water, warm clothes, and candles that provide temporary lighting—but also demonstrating solidarity, which bolsters residents’ resolve and resilience. And it’s not just in Novohryhorivka. Since the beginning of the war more than a year ago, the Salesians have been supporting those who remained.

“We want to bring aid as close as possible to the border [with Russia], where most of the villages have been destroyed, houses have been burned, and people are living assembled in shelters. They need help,” Fr. Józef says. “It is thanks to our many compassionate donors that we can obtain and distribute this aid.”

Also thanks to this support, some Salesian schools in Ukraine have managed to stay open, providing education in emergency situations with wraparound psychological support for students, teachers and families.

In total, 66 Salesian organizations from five continents—including Salesian Missions—have supported more than 100 projects throughout Ukraine, with more in the works. So far, these projects have included constructing emergency shelters, supporting internally displaced people, and providing educational programs and activities for children and youth. Special emergency aid helped residents cope with the changing seasons and delivered essential medicine, vehicles, field kitchens, food, clothes, tents, blankets and more.

“There was poverty before the war,” says Piotr, an aid worker in Ukraine. “Now, what little the people had has been taken away from them. It is worthwhile to help these people. I encourage it.”

Our missionaries couldn’t agree more.

“We’ve survived this long thanks to Divine Providence,” Olena concludes. “And that’s why our faith has come alive again.”

To see, first-hand, the impact of your kindness in Ukraine, watch your gift in action on our YouTube channel. If you would like to help provide more humanitarian aid, please give to our Ukraine Emergency Relief Fund.

Our mission remains with the victims of war and other disasters when others move on—bringing material support and hope for a better tomorrow. What’s your mission?

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Any goods, services, or funds provided by Salesian Missions to programs located in this country were administered in compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including sanctions administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control.