Maybe by the time that you receive this letter I shall be in the Lviv area of the Ukraine. Travelling doesn’t become any easier in this part of the world. I am 73 years of age now. Thankfully, at the present time, I feel that God gives me the strength to assist (even if it is in a small way), the poverty ravaged people that I am about to describe to you.
I have just received a letter from Pastor Misha, our faithful representative in the Ukrainian.
He thanked us for the clothes, blankets and Christmas shoe boxes that Door of Hope and Link to Hope were able to give him for distribution. He received it at a time (in his own words), when “icy rain/snow mix filled the sky and covered the earth.” He then proceeded to describe the people of the Zakarpathian region of the Ukraine.
They are a large gypsy community who, in Misha’s words, “are the least understood people on this planet.” He said that it is a myth that gypsies only steal and never work. While having their own traditions and cultures, they are not hardened criminals. The community that he and ourselves provide practical assistance to, have to work hard in order to survive. In a land of soaring unemployment, they grab work wherever they can to gain enough money to supply daily food for their families.
Each day, they travel from village to village collecting scrap metal and plastic bottles. In the forests they gather branches bearing specific berries, and in the fields they dig up left-overs of horseradish plants. They pick up anything that can be sold to passers by.
The majority of these people poor stay in the forest among the mud during the winter months because they have no housing option.
Their housing is difficult to describe because it simply comprises of anything that they can collect from city dumps. Few have windows in their hovels, neither do they have any electronic means of heating their dwellings when temperatures drop to nearly 30 degrees below zero.
Families with as many as ten children struggle to survive in these ghetto dwellings. There is no gas or sanitation, no running water, plumbing or sewerage system; and their toilet is the forest. Pastor Misha has seen them gather water from puddles.
Neither are there any fire precautions. Two months ago, three shanties were burnt to the ground along with the owners clothing, bedding and blankets. They were left with nothing; nearly naked and barefooted. To make matters worse this community receive no official medical care. Two children have died during this winter. Although money could purchase limited medication from a city pharmacy, money is needed to buy food.
All around these people are great piles of rubbish. Recently, city building companies have unofficially commenced dumping their construction trash and unwanted items in the village. This adds to corruption and pollution. It seems strange that in the middle of a modernised Europe, there are these lamentable zones of poverty disturbingly ignored and separated from the rest of the world.
Pastor Misha and his church are conducting evening sessions to educate these unfortunate people in simple matters that you and I take for granted.
They are also giving spiritual assistance. Teaching them about a Loving God who can change not only their inner thoughts but their outer living conditions. Some have commenced attending Sunday church.
I shall be taking as much money as possible to the Ukraine to help educate these people. Money that many of you have already very generously donated.
Our appeal is for further support to assist in the practical, educational and spiritual support of these poor, marginalised people.
As well as delivering funding by hand, we also forward it by International Bank Transfer.
Bless you for the faithful donations that you make to Door of Hope. Please rest assured, your response to this appeal will be gratefully received and wisely used.
We thank you in anticipation.
In the name of HIM who always gives more that is asked of HIM.