From Dal Stanton, MTW Kyiv missionary and MTW Crisis Response Team in Krakow, Poland: Beth and I walked out of the restaurant after attending the afternoon worship at Christ the Savior Evangelical Presbyterian Church when we were surprised to see a demonstration progressing toward the main square in the heart of Krakow. I wasn’t expecting the demonstration and I was deeply moved when I saw who the participants were.
Scanning the parade of people, I saw predominantly women and children bearing signs and banners all proclaiming the hope of their hearts – peace for Ukraine. However, the cadence of their chant revealed another side of the demonstration of mothers, “Stop Russia! Save our families!” For most of these families walking down the street, the husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers were missing. They are still in Ukraine fighting for their country and trying to stop the Russian dictator whose atrocities in Ukraine remind all of Europe of the legacy of one Adolph Hitler. The chant, ‘Stop Russia! Save our families!” holds the bridled anger of those who have survived so far but who will not forget the innocents that have died in Bucha, train stations, and in maternity hospitals.
Many of the mothers are cradling in their arms ‘mock’ babies swaddled in bloodied cloths. Beth and I saw our colleague Katya walking with her friend Marta. Katya is the director of the Shelter that receives displaced Ukrainians – just like the women and children with whom she was now walking. It took little and Beth and I joined the procession walking among Ukrainians who only desire what we all desire – to raise our children without fear, to live in peace, to have an opportunity at happiness, and freedom to worship God.
When the procession reached the main square, it became apparent that this demonstration was widely known – TV/news cameras were all around. The world was watching, and the mothers need to tell their story. Will the West respond? Will help go beyond the words of weak politicians? There was first a silence that settled on the crowd. It seemed to call all to a time of reflection. Then a young mother holding a ‘mock’ baby swaddled in bloody cloths began to speak in the microphone. She spoke of the atrocities in Ukraine and how the children have suffered and 1000s have died. After she spoke, in symbolic expressions of their grief and outrage, many mothers with mock bloodied babies laid them carefully on the cold ground. Younger girls then covered the babies with a large Ukrainian blue and yellow flag. The Ukrainian anthem was then sung as a memorial to the dead of Ukraine, not only for the children but for the men who are dying to stop the war.
Next, another song was taken up which I could not understand the words, but it sounded like a children’s song to me. Later, I found out from Katya what the song was and found these lyrics:
My name is Motherland. Storks are a light wing. My name is Ukraine And the ladybugs are warm. My name is Vyshyvanka, I am a cross on the canvas. My name is blue sky. I am a little sun underneath.
Dad’s words: Ukraine is me!
Mother’s songs, Ukraine is you!
My name is Steppe wide, My name is Bread Taste, The last school bell, Over the gray Dnieper fog. My name is Hope. My name is Love. My name is a pure dream. And the belief that God is with us!
I was not expecting to become a part of this demonstration today, but I’m thankful that I could. So often we, as westerners, watch the news and hear of wars in far off places and the plight of peoples that we will never know. We would rather not be bothered, and we grow tired of hearing of other’s struggles. I pray that we will not grow tired of standing with the Ukrainian people as they fight for their country and for freedom – ideals that are not foreign to us.