A Mother’s Story
Marichka and her husband, Sasha, were “living well” in Ukraine before the war. Involved in church planting and establishing a business, the couple was building a life together in Kiev with their two young children.
Everything changed on February 24th when they awoke at 5 am to the sound of explosions. “The war is here,” Sasha said to his wife. One of the missiles had landed near their house.
The family evacuated to a bomb shelter in their apartment building. Constructed with a capacity of 250, more than 350 people sought refuge there as the bombs fell. The family evacuated to a bomb shelter in their apartment building. Constructed with a capacity of 250, more than 350 people sought refuge there as the bombs fell.
For several days, Marichka, Sasha, and their children stayed in Kiev listening to the shelling. They were trapped in the city. Friends outside of Kiev invited the family to stay with them, but it was not possible to reach them due to bridges being destroyed and not knowing where the Russian soldiers were located. They were told that those who tried to evacuate could be shot.
With tears in her eyes, Marichka recounts the horror of those early days of the war:
I remember the moment when we were sitting in the bomb shelter, and I was talking to my five-year-old child saying: “If something happens to me or to Dad, then you need to grab the two-year-old, go up to the apartment, shut the door, and call my brother and call the sister of my husband. Do not leave the apartment, just be there, and they will come and get you out.” I was sitting in the bomb shelter and I was writing down the phone numbers on her [arms]. We needed to be ready for anything. No one knew what would happen.
After four days, the family was finally able to leave Kiev and escape to a Baptist church where Marichka’s brother is a pastor. But they didn’t leave alone. Marichka recalls the conversation she had with her brother:
I say we cannot leave by ourselves. Many of our friends came to take shelter there and some of the friends were in the apartment. And I say it is a whole company of 20 people all together. And he says all of you come here and we will settle you. And what I was able to tell the whole company was, it’s not just me going to my family. I said to my friends, we are going to be received. We all can go there.
Now Marichka is able to serve other displaced families with the same care her family received. While her husband is volunteering in the Ukrainian army, she remains at the church to be a part of the ministry team that welcomes new arrivals to the center for long-term residents. She helps families acclimate to the center, prepares meals, and provides psycho-social support.
Since the war began, 7.7 million people are internally displaced in Ukraine and another 7.3 million have left the country, most of whom are women and children.
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