A man in Toretsk, Ukraine, drives away from his destroyed house Aug. 22 as Russia’s attack on the Ukraine continues. Canadian agencies are helping Ukraine’s prepare for a long winter. CNS photo/Ammar Awad, Reuters

Agencies help Ukraine prepare for long winter

  • September 3, 2022

Ukrainians, much like Canadians, know what it’s like to contend with tough winter seasons.

But there are fears that the Russian invasion of the country will compromise many Ukrainians ability to gut out the colder months as winter looms this year. Cost of living expenses have soared since the February attack and thousands have been displaced from their homes.

Catholic non-profits such as Chalice, headquartered in Bedford, N.S., have stepped up to aid Ukraine since the humanitarian crisis began in late February, and are poised to keep doing so as the frigid months approach.

“Their winters are very much like ours,” said Marilyn Hall, a planned giving and major gifts specialist with Chalice. “From our perspective right now, one of our sites has identified 95 families who will be in desperate need of heating supplies, and another site has identified 90 families. So, we are putting together two funds to help them get through the winter with their heating costs.”

As the organization prepares for the winter to come, its people on the ground and from afar work to help the people survive day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute.

“Food prices, gas and oil have escalated, and sheer fear is present within families,” said Hall. “Males from ages 18 to 60 are not allowed to leave the country. Many of them have been called up to fight. So, there are many families that might have someone who have a single parent who is not well themselves trying to support the family.

“Even though the media is not presenting the news as often as they were, the hardships on the ground have not changed. If anything, some of the worry and fear for the future has escalated.”

Hall added that Chalice is funding mental health supports to help the people, particularly the children, in the midst of this unrelenting crisis.

The Catholic Near East Welfare Association’s (CNEWA) Canadian chapter, like Chalice, remains resolved to provide aid to the Ukrainians now and in the future. Thanks to a strong relationship with the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, CNEWA is kept apprised of the landscape by partners on the ground. This intel helps the agency determine priority projects.

Team members such as Anastasiia Hryniuk are key in helping CNEWA Canada provide this effective support. Hryniuk came to Canada recently as a refugee from Ukraine, and now she is helping her homeland as Ukraine Program Assistant on behalf of the charitable organization. She routinely liaises with Ukrainian Catholic eparchies (dioceses) and institutions such as Caritas Ukraine and the curia of the Ukrainian Church.She detailed some of the horrors people are experiencing in an email to The Catholic Register.

“Cities in the northern, eastern and southern parts of Ukraine suffer from constant air strikes and occupation,” said Hryniuk. “For example, the city where I am from, Mykolaiv, is getting destroyed every single day. Hospitals, schools and important infrastructure have been destroyed. At the same time, the western part of Ukraine is hosting refugees who had to flee their homes and lost everything they had.”

Hryniuk said CNEWA Canada has so far bequeathed $5 million to help bring food, hygiene products, medications and shelters to people living in frontline cities. Funding is also directed to the Catholic dioceses as parishes are trying to restore parish houses to shelter as many people as possible, and towards hospitals caring for wounded soldiers and civilians.

Aware that the situation in Ukraine is not commanding the same level of attention in Canada and other countries compared to the spring months, Hryniuk has a message to share.

“The need is still great in Ukraine because the war is still ongoing. As a Ukrainian, I would like people to remember Ukraine and to learn more about what’s happening there. Ukrainians are suffering and fighting for independence and their right to live, and they are united as never before.”

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