March 23, 2022 / Urs Schweizer based on reports from BG, CZ, HU, PL, RO, and SK
Every Day is Different: Many people coming to Poland, Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria still want to continue their journey towards more Western countries. But Sarah Putman in Romania says that “now, many are staying longer term”. In those situations where the refugees are staying for a very short time only – one night, two nights, three nights – a considerable flexibility of the helpers is required, and the volunteers are working hard as far as preparing meals, doing the laundry, etc. is concerned. Timotej Tagaj in Slovakia mentions the challenge that people sometimes announce their arrival but then do not come – which also requires a certain flexibility.
Sarah Putman points to another reality: “There is some overwhelmedness on the part of laborers as we adjust to the new normal hours/schedule/needs/priority of helping our new friends while still maintaining other ministry programming.”
A newsletter from Czechia also mentions the importance of volunteers: “This work is only possible through the dedicated work of local church members and professionals who are willing to give up their free time for this cause.”
Not only every day is different, the people coming are different, as well. Some of them are beautifully dressed, some of them wear very old clothes, some of them come from Donbas, others from north-eastern parts of the country, others from more western regions. Some of them speak foreign languages, some of them only speak Ukrainian (the latter emphasizing the need to cooperate with people who can understand/speak this language and to start as quickly as possible with offering language courses for those who would like to stay in the country). What all of these people have in common is the longing for a safe place, security, peace, a hopeful future – and in many cases the fear for family members still living in Ukraine.