EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT)– A somber anniversary in Ukraine, as the country marks one year since the Russian invasion.
“When everything happened, people were just ready to die. It is not just a war, it is what people experience, how they suffer, all of the tragedy in their lives,” says John Volchenko, a pastor of Grace of Christ Slavic Church in Evansville.
Thousands of Ukrainians have been killed, hurt, or made homeless.
“You just get used to it from the news, but our people are dying everyday, that is the hardest part,” Volchenko says.
Grace of Christ Slavic Baptist Church is home to several Ukrainians and Russians. Volchenko says several refugees call the church home, including one family who escaped a few hours before Russians took over their city.
“The city was occupied by Russian tanks, and they killed everyone who tried to escape or leave,” Volchenko says.
The church has had several fundraisers to help their friends and relatives. Within the past year, Volchenko says they were able to send over $100,000 to church partners who had volunteers in Ukraine.
“For example, Nikolayev, all of the city was without water because the main pipe was broken. We helped the church drill a well right in the property of the church. And people from all around the town came with bottles to get the water,” he says.
When trying to help in Ukraine, some of the volunteers in the country died, while trying to help others survive.
“Volunteers and the people we worked with, some of them died. A lot of young people died when trying to deliver our help, money and food,” he says.
The church is focusing on getting money to help people in hot spots, which are the areas hardest hit by the war.
“We just concentrate on food, medicine, and the operation, water, all that kind of stuff,” he says.
Volunteers have sent back pictures and even sent a plaque signed by the people the church has helped. Pastor Volchenko translate that letter from Ukrainian and paraphrased it in English for Eyewitness News.
“We don’t know your names, we even never saw your faces…but if somebody can do good…in this world, it’s still not so bad… and it means that our Father has not taken his away his mercy from his creation,” he says.
The church plans to have other events and fundraisers to help Ukraine in the future.