Ukraine – Salesian solidarity will outlast war

24 February 2023

(ANS - Kyiv) - Exactly one year has passed since the invasion of Ukraine. Over 200,000 dead, 40,000 wounded, nearly 2,700 schools bombed and 500 destroyed are just some of the current figures of the conflict. Nearly 18 million people need urgent humanitarian aid to live, and more than 5.5 million schoolchildren have seen their education disrupted by the war. Millions of lives were changed forever on Feb. 24 last year.

"When the shelling started, water, electricity, and gas were also cut off. We could not wash and it was difficult to get food," recalls Boris, who fled Mariupol, "a city that no longer exists because it is burned and destroyed."

Salesian missionaries have been at the side of the population since the beginning, accompanying and welcoming refugees in neighboring countries and helping displaced people in Ukraine. In recent months, the bombings have been compounded by winter, with temperatures reaching as low as -20 degrees Celsius, which has greatly increased suffering and need.

Thanks to the aid received, Salesian schools in Lviv, Odesa, and Kyiv have been able to remain open and provide education in emergency situations, through building shelters, reinforcing isolation and support for water, electricity and gas supplies, psychological support for students, teachers, and families, and covering school costs.

A total of 66 Salesian Family entities, organizations, and communities from all five continents have supported more than 100 projects, worth more than 9.6 million euros in aid. Projects implemented and supported included the construction of emergency shelters (more than 230 thousand euros), support to refugees abroad (more than 2.1 million) and internally displaced persons (more than 1 million), educational programs and activities for children and youth (about 600 thousand euros), the special emergency plan to cope with winter (more than 1 million) as well as general support (cash aid to affected communities, essential medicines, vehicles, field kitchens, food, clothes, tents, blankets, totaling 3.5 million) and other specific forms of aid (about 1 million) to manage such a complex situation.

The international solidarity and direct commitment on the ground by the Salesian Family, which began a year ago, continues today. "We want to bring aid as close as possible to the border, where most of the villages have been destroyed, houses have been burned and people are living assembled in shelters. They need help," says Fr. Józef Nuckowski, SDB, as he leads a convoy of aid collected through the generosity of the Salesian Family from around the world. "It is thanks to you that we can get this aid this far."

"Really, everything has been destroyed. Every building has been hit, no one has been left untouched," Fr. Nuckowski notes bitterly again as he arrived in Luch, not far from Kherson in southern Ukraine.

"We have experienced the full harshness of the war since its beginning," says one of the 55 people still living in the village, which has been a battleground between the Russian and Ukrainian armies. "We just hope that all this will end well, that we can rebuild our village and live in peace."


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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