Ukraine – Material and spiritual bread: two necessary foods the Salesians give to needy

10 May 2022

(ANS - Zhytomyr) - "In the subway stations there are small children, little more than a year old, who have been living there for weeks, as do older people... To whoever asks for help, we try to respond in every possible way." Sister Iryna Ismaiłova, a nun who collaborates with Salesian Bishop Vitalij Kryvytskyi, bishop of the diocese of Kyiv-Zhytomyr, in the management of the aid, recounts the terrible everyday life of the war in Ukraine.

"She is responsible for organizing the aid that arrives from all over the world and determining where it will be distributed," confirms the prelate.

In her humanitarian service during these two and a half months of the war, Sister Iryna has seen a lot of things, even if she always maintains the smile and quietness typical of her institute, the Seraphic Sisters: "After the bombing of Kyiv, two little girls of 3 and 5 years old, together with their mother and grandfather, were sleeping in a box... These are things that you can't really convey with words... They needed everything," she testified to Fr Roman Sikon, SDB, and to Michael Krol, of "Salesian Missions".

The amount of aid coming in from all over the world is indeed large and has now filled not only the classrooms used for storage but also most of the aisles of the churches. "From different parts of the Salesian world, from Poland, Croatia, Germany, and Italy," says the nun. She then concludes with a message full of gratitude and blessings: "We are truly grateful to all those who have helped in every way, materially, financially and also with prayer. May God reward you, and may St. Joseph take care of you as he took care of the Son of God."

The same message is the one that Msgr. Kryvytskyi also wants to share; because while it is true that they are the ones on the ground, committed to bringing aid to the needy, there is behind them a large and capillary network of organizations, benefactors, and individuals of goodwill who are doing their best to give a caress to those who are most tried at this time. "We are really proud to be able to go out and help those people who need material bread and spiritual bread. And I want to sincerely thank all of you who allow us to help with both of these types of bread," the prelate concluded.

The help of the Salesian network to the Ukrainian population is in fact not only vast and widespread but also marked by attention to detail. This can also be seen when crossing the western border of the country, in Poland, in Czerwińsk nad Wisłą, where the Sons of Don Bosco are currently hosting about 40 people - almost all women with their children and some elderly people, most of whom have fled from the area of Zhytomyr.

Having fled from the fear of bombs and rockets and the distressing sounds of air-raid sirens, at the Polish Salesians they have found not only shelter, a roof over their heads, but above all a loving and respectful welcome. "We host the refugees in a separate building from ours, in what used to be the Pilgrim's House, so that they can be to a good extent independent," explains Fr Akacjusz Cybulski, Rector of the Salesian Oratory of the work. "But at the same time, our paths often cross in the refectory, where we have breakfast and dinner together."

"In a nutshell: a certain independence, a bit of respectful distance, to allow everyone to feel at ease; but on the other hand, closeness, attention, care, and presence," Fr Cybulski concludes.



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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