From Jamie Peipon FB post: This picture is one I took yesterday while on a rooftop in beautiful L’viv. You can see the Ukrainian flag flying proudly above the skyline. There were lots of people out and about in the city, but they also have not begun to let their guard down.
This last mission was mainly a medical mission. I drove a van filled with medicine that had just been flown in by another member of our team [MTW Crisis Response Team in Krakow]. This medicine will be distributed and put to use very quickly. No matter how full our vans are as we unload things, the rooms to which we deliver this aid are never full when we arrive again with the next batch. The team of Ukrainian volunteers at the church is working quickly and efficiently to distribute all the aid that they’re receiving.
On my way back to Poland, my job was to safely bring a Ukrainian girl back to Krakow so that she could grab a train and meet up with her family that was already in Europe. She is about 25 and we met up at our appointed time and place. She hopped right into the van before we had time to actually even introduce ourselves. I told her that, generally speaking, I consider it a bad idea to jump into some strange foreign guy’s van before you at least get his name. She got a laugh out of that, and my name, and we were off.
She evacuated from Kharkiv and the stories are just heartbreaking. Keep in mind this is only a portion of one young lady’s experience and that every Ukrainian now has stories like these. Kharkiv was hit by Russia early; the bombings continue and she is still feeling guilty for leaving… she’s feeling guilty for leaving! Her family immediately went to a bomb shelter on the 24th and, when they finally felt safe (or hungry) enough to do so, they left the shelter to get bread. The place where they bought it had bumped the price up to 48 Hryvnias for one loaf which was a bit higher than normal. They got bread for themselves and for their elderly neighbors. My new friend said she remembered thinking, “That’s so terrible if they raised the price of bread in order to benefit from the war and people’s suffering.” The next day, that same store was blown up by a Russian missile… and, even though she had wished them no harm, she was clearly feeling guilty about having those thoughts as she told me the story in the car… she’s feeling guilty over Russian attacks! There is so much guilt going around no matter what decision one makes.
She told me her grandmother lives in Kherson. She is 87 and the family decided not to tell her about the war because they were afraid for her health. She apparently had a difficult personality and was very much alone as no other family members live nearby. When Russian tanks rolled into her city, the family knew they had to tell her about the war for her own safety. She died days later and the family had to plan the burial knowing it would be impossible to attend. As they called everyone they could think of, they were being told by most something along the lines of: “Well… I guess we could bury her in someone’s backyard.”
For almost an hour, she recounted to me – a stranger – story after story. For most people, any ONE of those stories would be a life-shaping, critical moment of their life. Yet she ended her litany of stories the same way almost every other Ukrainian I’ve talked to does: “But, really, if you compare my story with what other people are going through, we’ve had it so easy!” No, my friend. No, you haven’t.
Compiled by Leanne Portzel