From the beginning of the conflict in Donbas, the Church of the Holy Theotokos in the village of Vilcha, Vovchansk district, Kharkiv region, have taken care of internally displaced persons (IDPs). The main categories of people who moved from the turbulent East are pensioners, large families, disabled and disadvantaged people who left their homes in search of a better life in a peaceful area.
On March 7, the settlers received first aid from Pope Francis at the parish of the Holy Theotokos, which included fuel briquettes to heat homes and apartments. Each family received more than 2.5 tons of fuel, which will ensure heating till the end of the heating season and will be enough for the next winter. This is just the beginning of the project, the next stage envisages to provide food and hygiene products to over a hundred families of IDPs in Vovchansk district.
People are immensely grateful to the Church, their parish and the Pope’s initiative, as they have not left them face to face with the disaster and even now care for them. They also note that despite it has been three years since the conflict burst out, they still need assistance, food, medical and psychological support. Some settlers have told they are longing for homes, because for three years they never came back to their lesser homeland because of constant shelling and danger. And many families have nowhere to return because their homes have been destroyed by fighting.
The local parish administrator, Fr Serhiy Koval is grateful that the aid from Pope Francis have reached the remote area of Kharkiv region, as the families migrated here because of cheap rent, but humanitarian programs cover them very rarely. Therefore, the only kind of support for these people is the aid from the Church and parishioners.
It should be noted that the parish of the Holy Theotokos in Vilcha village is the most eastward in the Kharkiv Exarchate, it is located a few kilometers from the Russian border.
Source: Information website of the UGCC