UOC of the USA Provides Humanitarian Aid to Ukraine
UOC of the USA Provides Humanitarian Aid to Ukraine

УПЦ США знову надає Гуманітарну Допомогу в Україні

In the freezing subzero temperatures, the gaily decorated trees, their lights twinkling, flanked the wide avenues of Kyiv, giving a sense of joy and Christmas merriment in the capital city of Ukraine.

Yet, first impressions are often misleading.  Underneath the façade of holiday cheer, as people around the world were making their shopping lists, purchasing gifts for their loved ones, planning exquisite meals… the people in Kyiv were also gathering.  However, they were not gathering to sing Christmas Carols, or to watch a light show… they were not united in frivolity, but, in hunger, anguish, worry, and great need.  The elderly, the disenfranchised, the unemployed… all came together in search of a meal to temporarily quiet their hunger pangs and sustain them for one more day upon this earth.

The elderly wrinkled faces, eyes that had once softly gazed upon loved ones, now shown with tears of desperation.  Trembling hands that had once tenderly caressed the cheeks of infants, that had strained and worked hard to feed their families, now timidly reached out for a slice of bread.  Shuffling feet that had once raced to hug a crying child, had walked miles in the snow to get to work, now stood in shabby torn boots, waiting upon the mercy of others.

The need is great, and therefore, representing His Eminence Metropolitan Antony, Prime Hierarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, His Eminence Archbishop Daniel, Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparch of the UOC of the USA, had traveled halfway across the globe to help alleviate the abject misery of these people.

The UOC of the USA, often working through the St. Andrew Society which just recently provided aid to the elderly in Mariupol, diligently cares for people in need, whether they are near or far.  This time the outcry came for the historic city of Kyiv, and the Church did not ignore it. 

With the blessing of Metropolitan Antony of the UOC of the USA, and Metropolitan Epiphany, Prime Hierarch of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, this common Social Service project of both Churches, works tirelessly to assist the hungry, to give them hope once more, and to not only nourish their souls, but, also their bodies.

Working under the coordination of Roman Kholodov, along with the students of the Kyiv Theological Academy of the OCU, meals are offered biweekly – each Tuesday and Thursday.  On Tuesday, December 22, 2020 - Archbishop Daniel, joined the humanitarian workers to assist and alleviate the worries of these people, if only for a moment.  Putting on a brave face, he passed out cups of milk, warm soup, tea, waffles, and cheesecake.  High caloric items are not a luxury, but a need in order to ward off the cold, and keep the bodies from freezing.

Standing patiently in line, people tried not to make eye contact.  They were embarrassed, not used to asking for assistance.  Seeing that the crowd was feeling utterly disheartened, Archbishop Daniel, walked up to them and began speaking with each person, giving them value, and assuring them that they were not invisible, but, were seen, were important, and were loved.  While not able to touch or hug the people, being respective of social distancing due to the pandemic, His Eminence nonetheless was able to touch the hearts and warm the souls of those who eagerly came closer to him, to hear him speak. 

His voice brought the people out of their gloom, as they lifted their eyes in wonder.  His Eminence had a kind word for the elderly gentleman who having gratefully accepted the food, opted to hide it away in his pockets to take home and share with his family.  Archbishop Daniel joked with the elderly grandmother, whose fingers poked out of the holes in her worn mittens, as she took a tentative bite of cheesecake, her eyes crinkling in a smile, as she explained to His Eminence how she had often baked cheesecake for her husband.

Ivan, a grandfather of five, flashed a toothless smile, as he took a sip of hot dairy soup, hugging it close to his chest in an attempt to warm himself, while two elderly ladies, arms locked together for warmth and safety, each graciously accepted the food items, wishing God’s blessings upon those who served them.

Archbishop Daniel seemed to endlessly be handing out warm cups of soup, wrapped waffles, and bread, with each item of food, giving an encouraging word to the recipient, and quietly uttering a prayer for their wellbeing.  The line of shivering individuals ebbed and flowed until finally everyone was fed. 

Himself shivering, with a heavy heart having seen such hunger in the people of his ancestral homeland, Archbishop Daniel walked through the plaza – Maydan Nezalezhnosti, stopping here and there to speak with individuals who had wondered off to sip their hot tea.  This once great and struggling land, that had survived a tragic history, genocidal famines, and wars, was once again facing hardship.  However, hope existed, as the true worth of any nation is measured by how they care for the least of their citizens. 

Having distributed about 250 meals that evening, the humanitarian effort was not yet over.  In the freezing wind, many people seek shelter in the underground subways and railroad stations, trying to find respite from the blistering cold outside.  At midnight, additional food distributions begin in these very locations.

The Church does not wait for the people to come to her for help, but, goes to the people.  As Christ went among the most derelict and needy of society, so the Church goes as well, to aid those in need.

A sincetre “Thank You” to the people of God – the people of the UOC of the USA, especially the membership of St. Andrew Society of the Church, for generously donating, praying, and caring for the needy around the world.

A giving hand is a blessing hand.  Let us continue to bless and thereby ourselves be the recipients of the GRACE of the Holy Spirit.

If you would like to make a donation to the UA Assistance Fund of the UOC of the USA, please do so via Donations page on the web site or by mailing your donation to

UOC of the USA

PO Box 495

South Bound Brook, NJ

 

UOC of the USA Provides Humanitarian Aid to Ukraine

Tex by Elizabeth Symonenko

Photos by Deacon Andriy Sydor

(36 images)


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Mailing Address
Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA
P.O. Box 495
South Bound Brook, NJ 08880

Offices:
Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA
Metropolia Center
135 Davidson Avenue
Somerset, NJ 08873