Mercy dash to deliver essentials to Ukraine as the chaos of war hits home

Ukrainians are facing chaos and confusion, as aid and development agencies rush to get humanitarian supplies into the country.

World Vision Australia CEO Daniel Wordsworth has led the organisation’s first mercy dash across the border into Ukraine to deliver much-needed food and supplies, as the nation buckles under the weight of war. World Vision has been on the ground in Romania since the conflict began and were able to answer the urgent plea over the border, delivering two van-loads of food and supplies to a 600-bed regional hospital which issued an urgent plea for help to its sister town in Romania, Siret.

Ukraine crisis as Russia invades

Wordsworth said the conflict in Ukraine was starting to take an awful toll on supplies of staple items, including hospital goods within the country, and it would be the first of many deliveries.

Hospital supplies are already dangerously low, and there are real fears food will become a critical issue in coming weeks.

Alla Gedz, a member of Christ Church, Kyiv, part of the Church of England’s Diocese of Europe has been posting regular updates that have been widely shared in Anglican networks.

On the evening of March 5, Alla posted to Facebook having just returned to her home in Kyiv.

“Every day there are many stories on Facebook about people who need help and have been without water and food for several days,” Gedz wrote.

“When we arrived in Kyiv, a neighbour met us at the building and gave us a loaf of bread. I don’t remember the last time when I was so happy about bread. According to what our neighbours say, food has appeared in Kyiv and some bakeries are baking bread and giving it away for free… This is the moment when I can’t hold back my tears of gratitude…”

Gedz, a journalist, chronicled the early days of Kyiv’s bombing. Her account was captured in a moving piece entitled ‘The siege of Kyiv – The view from a basement’ published in Anglican News on March 1.

Her post published yesterday captures the sense of chaos in Ukraine as war unfolds around them.

“Our president, on all TV channels, calls on people to return from all the countries where they fled. He says that it is already safe in Ukraine… They say on TV that 11,000 people have already returned to Ukraine,” Gedz writes.

Gedz and her husband had returned home from where they were staying around 100 km away.

“When we were driving to Kyiv, we saw a lot of buses and cars heading towards the border. And they also periodically say that an evacuation has been announced and they have agreed with the Russians on a green corridor.”

“When we arrived at our house, the sirens blared again….”

World Vision’s Wordsworth provides a less personal but equally worrying account.

“We’re hearing from within Ukraine that people are desperate for food,” Wordsworth said. This is creating an additional problem for hospitals.

“On top of supply chain issues and their normal patient-load, hospitals are coming under added pressure as people flee their homes and flock to hospitals as safe havens to seek food and shelter, especially as conditions drop to below zero degrees.

“Hospital supplies are already dangerously low, and there are real fears food will become a critical issue in coming weeks. There are vulnerable people who are sick and can’t get across the border taking refuge in hospitals and schools.”

World Vision’s humanitarian delivery included hospital supplies such as mattresses, pillows, sheets, towels, soap and disinfectant, as well as food items such as pasta, grains, rice, oil, condensed milk and canned meat to hungry children and families and especially sick patients.

More shipments will follow and extra World Vision teams who are experts in food distribution partnering are being deployed to continue delivering supplies to vulnerable children and communities within Ukraine.

Gedz, and others like her, will continue to give those of us many many kilometres away, a sense of what her world has become.

“The morning was quiet. Suspiciously quiet. Even the birds were silent, did not sing. This is the moment when you start to be afraid of silence, because you don’t know what awaits you.

Then the curfew ended. And the sirens blared again: ‘Air Raid!’