Ukrainian Crisis Appeal: Refugee Realities from Northern Romania - March 2022
Out of the darkness they came. Huddled figures, minimum baggage, mothers and children, minus all men.
The thing I remember most are their expressions. They were pure in the most awful of ways. Pure shock. Pure hurt. Pure desperation. At least in the majority of cases.
And it's difficult to describe how cold it was. Only that the wind seemed to be taking the skin from our faces.
But so it was a few miles from Siret on the northern Romanian border with the Ukraine. in the second week of March. At nine in the evening.
The refugees had seemed to be everywhere. In the bed and breakfast hotels, in churches, in houses. We had driven past a sports centre with 300 of them.
Earlier that day, we'd heard some of the stories. Of a policeman being killed in front of his family. Of Red Cross vehicles being fired upon.
One dear Christian family, with nine children, had left Cernauti due to constant air raid sirens. They'd cast lots ultimately to make their decision about leaving. Once they crossed the border, frozen and frightened, the father committed himself to the Lord in prayer. Before finding himself in the company of Christians who took them in!
We visited another Christian family who were living in the vacant house of some believers in the Romanian Fellowship in Bristol. We had a blessed time of fellowship and prayer!
Later we'd hear of a family from Mariupol who had risked life and limb to travel for five days, sustained only by biscuits, to arrive at the Kairos centre in Suceava. Upon arrival they'd needed immediate medical care and attention.
The Kairos Centre, with Andy Worsop at the helm, used to be a place for training missionaries. How long ago that now seems!
The centre's footfall, as people call it, had probably increased a hundredfold since becoming a hub for refugee aid, providing food, clothing and overnight accommodation before allocating people to places elsewhere.
Approximately 300 refugees a day.
Ninety percent of refugees wished to leave Romania for friends and family elsewhere, Andy said. The rest wanted places near the border so as to facilitate an easy return once possible.
Bus companies were making the most of things. While 12 year olds had previously enjoyed free travel, now it was 90 euros to leave the country.
An orphanage arrived a few days ago, with children and staff. Andy provided them with overnight accommodation, before locating a place in Spain where they could stay.
He reckoned the centre was now operating 24 hours a day. Unfortunately, Andy said, he could not, and so was valuing six hours sleep a night.
Things are challenging. But there is a sense, however, that the poorest refugees are due to arrive in the next few weeks, lacking friends in other countries.
This will present a new challenge in that they will not be in transit elsewhere but looking to remain in Suceava.
Andy says financial help will be urgently needed once this happens, and so we are collecting funds for this purpose. Please feel free to use our website donate facility, or preferably direct to the Romanian Ministries bank account, details below, which makes no deduction (unlike the website).
We are also helping the fleet of minibuses and transport vehicles bringing refugees to Kairos from the border.
One of these is manned by our own Petru Andone, an erstwhile attender of the Romanian Fellowship in Bristol.
Two years after returning to Romania, and wishing to help, he resurrected a green van which had been gathering dust in his garden. It can actually seat nine people, and Petru says he transports up to 60 refugees a day.
One thing we forgot to mention? Petru is also receiving treatment for liver cancer.
Finally, we are investigating whether we can help Ukrainian pastors who have stayed where they are. Some of them are known to people in the Romanian Fellowship in Bristol.
What days these are, dear ones, what days these are! With a covid crisis behind us, a refugees crisis has followed.
In this world we will have tribulation, said our Saviour, and He was right. And also right when He said He had overcome the world.
Please though would you consider helping those in need? The donate facility on the website is available, and also the Romanian Ministries account, which operates under account number 00026945 and sort code 405240. There is no account checking service, but these details are correct, and we're happy to confirm receipt of funds.
More posts of this nature will follow. But please, let's remember those leaving their homeland, as if we were leaving our homeland with them.
Their expressions were unforgettable. But expressions, we know, can change. May it happen, through the kindness of God's people!