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Ukraine: A Survivor’s Story

October 26, 2022

Irina,* 60, lived in the Donetsk region of Ukraine. Her life changed completely after what should have been a quick errand turned into a horrific ordeal.

“It was the morning of April 6, when I was on my way to the grocery store to get bread,” Irina recalled.

Tears welled up in her eyes as she recounted the events of that day.

She said a terrible explosion left her momentarily unconscious, and as she came out of a haze of darkness, she realized she was on the ground. There was a huge fire blazing and her legs were injured, but Irina said she felt no pain or fear—she was in shock. She and several other people who were injured in the explosion were taken to the hospital in an emergency bus.

“I was lying on the floor of the bus, and they bandaged my injured legs. They had no medicine. A lady was lying next to me. She succumbed to her deadly injuries before we reached the hospital. She left behind her daughter, only 12 years old,” Irina said through tears.

At the hospital, doctors worked on Irina’s legs, but her left leg was so badly injured that they had to amputate it. The hospital was overcrowded with the wounded, mainly soldiers, so Irina was discharged after only six days.

The bombing cost Irina not only her leg but also her home. The entire area where Irina lived was reduced to a wasteland of mangled buildings and rubble. Irina had to seek refuge in Lviv, where many displaced people have found shelter, food, and assistance since hostilities in Ukraine escalated in February 2022.

Irina has an adult son and daughter who live in an area that has been occupied by Russian troops. She is worried about them, but the area where they live has had no power and has limited cell phone reception, so she can’t check in with them.

World Renew has been supporting the onground work of an Integral Alliance peer member in the region for many months. As a result, people have received emergency food and nonfood relief items. In Transcarpathia, where an estimated 500,000 displaced people now reside, families have received cash assistance to support their emergency food and nonfood needs. And in Moldova, where 89 percent of refugees are women and children, World Renew has helped provide medical support to refugees.

“Our network peers continue to shift their response plans as the needs change, and we thank God for the generosity that makes it possible for us to walk alongside them,” said Jacqueline Koster, World Renew acting director of international disaster response.

“We cannot influence many things; however, we will try to improve Irina’s life so that she can walk again and become more independent,” World Renew’s partners reported.

They have been working to have Irina fitted with a prosthetic leg. “The first step will be a visit to a specialized facility for orthopedic prosthetics in Slovakia [to arrange for] the manufacture of a custom-made prosthesis. We would also like to provide her with rehabilitation, which [will mean] temporary accommodation in Slovakia,” they said.

Like Irina, many of the people affected by the conflict in Ukraine have physical and emotional scars complicating their basic needs for food, water, and shelter. Please pray for healing for all who have lived through bombings and have witnessed the suffering caused by such events.

In recent days the people in Lviv have endured escalating hostilities. Pray for God’s provision for those who remain displaced and for the safety of those working to provide aid. Pray too for God’s peace in Ukraine and in all countries around the world where conflict robs people of their everyday needs, safety, and so much more.

*Name changed to protect identity