Six-year Hillsboro resident Lana Sakash is no stranger to Ukraine. She has been going on mission trips each year to volunteer in the country through the Roman Catholic Diocese of Mukachevo since 1997.
Sakash’s husband’s mother and family are from Ukraine, and she works and teaches English at St. Michael’s Children’s Home and other schools in western Ukraine about 50 miles from the country’s border with Hungary. The nearest bombing to the area has taken place in Ivano-Frankivsk, which is about two hours away, she said.
Sakash said the biggest challenge in western Ukraine now is the need to support the influx of refugees coming through from other parts of the country.
“He’s [Russian President Vladimir Putin] concentrating on taking Kyiv in the eastern part now, so thousands of refugees are flooding into western Ukraine,” said Sakash. “The soup kitchens are running low on food, and they are still getting things in, but the food prices have increased about 50 percent in only a week.”
St. Michael’s Children’s Home in Mukachevo, Ukraine began with its first building about 20 years ago, and now it consists of an administration building and four homes for families. The families plan to stay unless they are forced to leave.
“There is no bomb shelter in that village, so they’ll have to go to the crypt of the church which is very small,” said Sakash. “Their evacuation plan is, if the bombing starts closer to them, they will try and go to Hungary, but they didn’t want to uproot the children to take them to a refugee camp when they could stay there for now.”
Sakash is concerned for the challenges that will be faced if the home is forced to evacuate. “I just hope they can get out when the bombing starts because the lines at the border are huge, and people are waiting over 24 hours in that line,” she said.
Sakash recently received a call from a friend who made it out of Ukraine to Germany with her son. “The people fleeing are desperate,” she said. “They had a foreign passport, although right now you only need a birth certificate to get out through Hungary, and they’ve been welcomed, which is wonderful.”
Authorities are working to establish a humanitarian aid corridor to allow supplies from Hungary and other parts of the world to get to Ukraine. “Help is needed not only for the refugees there, but also for the orphanages, soup kitchens, hospitals, and other services,” said Sakash.
Sakash encouraged people who would like to support the people of Ukraine to make donations through SARA (Sharing America’s Resources Abroad), which is affiliated with the Heartland Conference. Donations can be made through heartlandconference.org or mailed to SARA, P.O. Box 1230, Worthington, Ohio 43085. “Emergency Ukraine Fund” should be noted in the memo section of checks and money orders.
Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.