The ongoing invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation has left the once vibrant and colorful landscape, dull and dark. The majestic trees, stately buildings, tall apartment complexes, and homes with colorful shutters upon their windows have all been reduced to rubble. However, the nation continues to fight for its liberty and for the freedom of the entire world.
On frontlines, the defenders of Ukraine take position in trenches, woods, and muddy fields, giving their last ounces of strength to protect their homeland, their families, and the desire to be free. Russian missiles continually fly overhead and pound the earth, making it shake and tremble in pain from the assault. With so many bombs exploding, missiles hitting, and bullets flying, the wounded are often quickly triaged on the lines of battle and only evacuated when possible.
It is difficult to get aid to those who are bleeding, injured, punctured, torn apart by Russian bombs, because the terrain is tough, pockmarked with bomb craters, peppered with mines, all of which often damage the transport vehicles which arrive to evacuate the injured. It is a hostile environment not only for human lives, but for the mechanical functioning of the numerous vehicles which enter the danger zone. Often more vehicles are in the repair shops than are actively out saving lives.
To help ease this imbalance, with the blessing of Metropolitan Antony, Prime Hierarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and Diaspora, Archbishop Daniel, Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy of the UOC of the USA and Consistory President, traveled to Germany in order to procure additional vehicles to ease the burden of those who actively work to rescue and bring aid to the injured defenders of Ukraine. The vehicles were purchased by the charitable donations of the parishes of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and the Ukrainian Orthodox parish community of Holy Archangel Michael, Genk, Belgium.
Having inspected the ambulances and transport vans, Archbishop Daniel blessed them, praying that they would quickly travel to those in need, be invisible to the enemy, and save countless lives. Having ensured the vehicles were loaded with necessary supplies, His Eminence handed them over to the drivers who arrived to pick them up and deliver them to Ukraine.
Arriving in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, the medical vehicles were delivered to the St. Michael Golden-domed monastery, where Metropolitan Epiphany took charge of them, also blessing them before handing them over to Roman Kholodov, head of the Department of Social Services of the Kyiv Metropolia “Paravolan”, which cares for the injured and those in need under the auspices of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine.
The ”Paravolan” team consists of students and graduates of theological educational institutions under the OCU, and is instrumental in evacuating wounded soldiers from active combat zones. There are currently nine crews who have already successfully evacuated over 6,000 wounded defenders.
The specialized tactical vans were purchased through the generous donations of the faithful of the UOC of the USA and Diaspora, and area already heading towards the front lines to save the lives of those who are giving their all to save the lives behind them.
Please consider donating to the Ukrainian Humanitarian Relief Fund of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, and help to save the lives of those who are fighting for freedom.
Photos by Deacon Andrii Sydor