Great Britain – An update from Fr Mykhaylo Chaban, the Superior of the Salesian vice-province of Ukraine

02 May 2023

(ANS – Bolton) – Last week, the Salesians of the province of Great Britain (GBR) had a visit from the, Fr Mykhaylo Chaban, Superior of the Salesian vice-province  “Mary Help of Christians” of the Greek-Catholic Ukraine.  He had travelled there to meet with students of Thornleigh Salesian College and he was able to sit with them to give an update of the situation in Ukraine.

How has the situation developed in Ukraine since the start of the war?

The war has changed the way we our lives in Ukraine.

The work we did for the first 5-6 months was very difficult because everything we were working on, had to stop. There was no work, and there was no studying. Now Salesians that are in the west of Ukraine, have resumed studying and teaching.

We have started working at middle school, high school and vocational school. In terms of the situation with the war, we have spaces prepared in case there is an alarm, constructed protection bunks for safety and we need for to go to safety is primary for us and young people. So, we are living as best as we can, to give the Children and young people the opportunity to study, play sports and take part in other activities.

How is the war affecting the work of the Salesians in Ukraine?

Three of our communities, the three in Lviv, are close to the Polish border, and their houses have not suffered any damage from the missiles sent by Russia. We have a house in Kiev, and Dnipro and those are also untouched by the bombs, but the danger is very high.

We Salesians have learned to live differently from the regular lifestyle. However, our work has changed as we are getting used to the current situation, we are also having to help people who are coming from the east and need our support. To do this, we have opened our schools up for activities for refugees, we host refugees in homes, and we feed refugees, not from the camp but from Mariapolis, east of Carpi where thousands of people live.

We welcome those from all backgrounds especially the young people who come from strongly affected areas. We want to help them live through this difficult period, because there are also young people who have lost their families, parents and homes because of the war.

What has the support been like from the UK and other provinces?

From the first day, we felt the closeness of the Salesian congregation which was ready to help in any way to support us. So, we have been able to do many different activities with refugees, young people and continue to work with them.

Thanks to the Salesian Mission Procure Office and the help and collaboration of the Salesians in the United Kingdom we have been able to provide aid in many ways: to bring food to the worst affected areas, to feed 900 refugees living in Lviv, to several people in our homes, to take in orphans of the war into our  family home.

It has helped us to create safe spaces, and the closeness of the Salesians is felt, and we continue to feel optimistic for this reason. We are grateful to all Salesians, especially to those from the UK who have supported us since the start of the war.

Is there any more support that the Salesians in the UK can give to help you in Ukraine?

Firstly, as Christians, we must pray for the immediate end to the war and the situation in Ukraine.

Because war affects everyone sadly. Of course, the other day we went with the Fr Gerry, GBR Provincial to visit Savio House, where we have the possibility to bring young people from the most affected areas for few weeks and to help them on continue to build their future. We are thinking and planning the logistics of being together in the place for a while.

Of course, the financial support we have already received is also important because we can help people to give them food, get medicine, give people support with their mental health. We will need this help until the war is over.


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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