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By Koen Carlier.. Early Monday morning, April 20, we departed on a 12 hour trip along poor roads, to the eastern city of Zaporozhe where 90 Jewish refugees presently reside after fleeing the fighting in Donetsk and Lugansk. After our previous visit and many discussions with Jewish organizations - in which we shared our vision about Aliyah - the time came that, between April 21 and the beginning of May, a large number of these people had, or will have, an interview at the consulate in Dnepropetrovsk, to assess the specific requirements for them to return to/make Aliyah to Israel.
Transport will be hired for a number of these journeys. We believe that there are many benefits when people in a similar situation travel together: things are organized for them, they are able to communicate with each other, are less anxious and they remain informed. The first group left on April 21 (see photo) and all went well. Everybody now knows what to do. We received very positive responses about our services, the trip that we paid for and the simple lunch. They will share this with family and friends who remain in Donetsk and Lugansk or have fled to the central or the western part of the country.
On Wednesday, April 22, we purchased and packed food parcels, for a total of 110 Jews (90 refugees and 20 poor families), which were distributed after the rather emotional meeting (see photo). At long last there was somebody who listened to them! We could speak to them about Aliyah, and everybody received a food parcel. It was also helpful that the Jewish Agency’s representative for Zaporozhe, was able to give a detailed information to all the refugees. Then there was time for questions, and quite a few people made use of this opportunity.The Jewish refugees, in fact, came to Zaporozhe in order to return to their homes.
But the tense situation and irregular fighting, as well as the shortage of all and anything, cause many to consider their future – especially parents with small children. Should they return home, survive as refugees or start a new life in Israel? This, undoubtedly, is a most difficult decision for, especially, older people. With careful attention they listened to our testimony and motivation for doing this work, and we quoted many Bible verses!
Jeremiah 31 : 10 “Hear the word of the Lord, you nations; proclaim it in distant coastlands: ‘He who scattered Israel will gather them and will watch over his flock like a shepherd.’" We are certain that many Jewish refugees will begin with their Aliyah process, and that is good. That evening we drove to another shelter in a small town close to Dnepropetrovsk, where we spent the night. There we spoke to the people who will be leaving for Israel, either this or next month. The Jewish refugees are thankful that, due to the support of the Christian Aliyah organizations in the Ukraine, their lodging and accompaniment is paid for until the moment that they leave for Israel permanently!
We drove home exhausted, thankful and with mixed emotions. Many trips to the embassy and airport in Kiev are planned for the coming weeks. In the meantime, some Jewish refugees from the East have arrived in our ‘hiding place’ close to Kiev. Amongst them a couple of 74 and 76 who will be leaving permanently in the near future, once everything is in order!
Christians for Israel has set up a special fund to help Jewish people to prepare themselves to make aliyah (emigrate to Israel). With your donation (any amount is welcome) we will:
Provide transportation to the Israeli Embassy and airports. More and more people want to prepare their documents in order to be ready to leave the Ukraine and go to Israel. Because of the long distances that people have to travel to reach the embassy in their district, Christians for Israel will facilitate their transportation by renting small and big busses to drive groups from the same area to the Israeli embassy in their region. Once they got green light and all is ready we drive them to the airport for their one way flight to Israel. The average cost of 1 person is € 135 / US $ 150
Provide shelter/accommodation for Jewish refugees. Refugees stay between 2 up to 6 weeks in different 'shelters' all over the Ukraine. Christian aliyah organisations pays for their accommodation until the moment they will make aliyah. The average costs to accommodate 1 refugee between 2 and 6 weeks is € 300 / US $ 325
Pay for travel documents. There are many poor families/elderly people and refugees. For those people that do not have money to pay for their paperwork and passport we will pay the costs of issuing these documents. They need these official documents in order to receive their visa for Israel . Total average amount per person: € 200 / US $ 225.
Supply food parcels. We pack and distribute thousands of foodparcels for poor Jewish families and refugees all over the Ukraine. This is really a great help especially in these uncertain times. One food parcel cost € 10 / US $ 12
Train more 'fishermen' for our Aliyah team. We would like to train more people to visit Jews in remote places, and help them if necessary.
Organize Aliyah Seminars. We plan to have 19 one-day seminars together with the Jewish Agency. These seminars are always very effective, and people can get all the information they need about making Aliyah. The first seminar will take place in April and the last one in October.
Young Jewish refugees from the East on the way to the consulate with their parents
With the big bus together to the consulate to start the Aliyah process
Extra checks at road blocks
Packing foodparcels in Zaporozhe
Jewish Agency representative gives information about aliyah, repatriation
Aliyahfieldworker Koen speaks about our work in the Ukraine to a group of Jewish refugees
A Jewish refugee from the East of Ukraine receives a foodparcel
Distribution of foodparcels to Jewish refugees from the East of Ukraine
An elderly Jewish couple fled from the East of Ukraine 'thank you for your help and attention'
A young Jewish couple fled from Luhanck East of Ukraine, is serious now
about aliyah after hearing us speaking
An elderly Jewish man thankfull for his foodparcel
A young father with his 2 year old child fled from Donetsk
Aliyahfieldworker Koen speaks to Jewish refugees
Not so good roads in the Ukraine
Fixing the pot-holes