Every morning for the past few weeks, I wake up, make my coffee, and tune into CNN to see what the latest is on the war in Ukraine. I spend the day checking Twitter, I get New York Times updates directly to my email, Associated Press alerts on my phone; I’m captivated by what I see. How fortunate I am to sit on my couch or at my desk, drink my coffee and digest the news in a quiet, peaceful setting. But it’s that fortune that makes me sick. I sit half a world away, unable to do anything of real significance to help the people of Ukraine. To help those fleeing their country, or those staying back to fight. To help the inevitable efforts to clean up that beautiful country if peace is restored.
I don’t have direct connections to the country. I wasn’t born there, neither were my ancestors. I’ve never visited either. But someone I love dearly has, and the country of Ukraine, and specifically the city of Odessa holds an incredibly special place in her heart. For a good part of my childhood, my aunt spent her days living in Ukraine as a missionary with Mission to the World. You see, my aunt never married, didn’t have children (although she’d tell you that my brother and I were hers), and made it her life’s work to help others, whether that was through mission work, or her time as a physical therapist working with patients who experienced strokes and head injuries, most of which were catastrophically impaired. She loved to teach – she was known to mentor physical therapy students every year during her time at Emory University, and during her time in Odessa, her work was centered around school teachers and educational instruction.
The last couple of months have been incredibly difficult for my aunt and her friends with whom she spent years in Ukraine. Some are back in the states, while others, including their host families, waited for what was to come. On Thursday, February 24, they had answers. Missionaries they knew in Kyiv and Odessa made their way to border towns like Lviv and Izmail. They waited days to make the trek into Poland and Romania. Their commitment to the Ukrainian people never wavered. Now, they do humanitarian work there, helping refugees that are fleeing their homes. She tells me that it’s too difficult to talk to her friends that are stateside on the phone, that emotions are too raw, too overpowering, so they rely on texts to exchange the information they have. As retirees, they spend their days watching the horror unfold on TV.
Back here in the states, many of us sit and watch in horror and wonder how we can help. There are many organizations doing great things for the people of Ukraine, and after all of this is said and done, many more will be needed to help rebuild that beautiful country. T/K Raise is about supporting the causes that Trevelino/Keller employees care most about, and for this fundraiser, we highlight the efforts of Mission to the World and all that they, and missionaries like my aunt, are doing for Ukrainians.