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In a virtually abandoned and derelict little town in the eastern part of Ukraine, another shelter, that can house a maximum of 50 Jewish refugees, was opened recently. It is a plain but well maintained space. After accompanying a large group of Jewish refugees in Zaporozhe (an industrial city with 900,000 inhabitants) to the consulate in Dnepropetrovsk, we had ample time to visit this second shelter.
We were warmly received by the person in charge and had time to explore the area. At supper that evening, we talked to the refugees. Suspicion was written on their faces initially, but after introducing ourselves over a cup of tea, the atmosphere became more amicable. Seventy six year old Hanna, her blind husband and only son had fled from Lugansk in mid-February. This was a harrowing nightmare for, especially the blind man, who has difficulty with orientation.
We had a profound discussion with Lena. She lived in an old house in Makiyivka, a mining town close to Donetsk, with her husband, daughter, son-in-law and only granddaughter, 5 year old Eva. When the fighting and bombing became heavier, the family decided to flee. Her daughter, Christine, is expecting her second child in the near future. Lena told us how difficult it was to decide to leave everything behind. But strangely enough, she frequently thought of her grandparents’ often repeated words: "one day, we will leave for Israel."
Lena is reading out loud Ezechiel 35 verse 25 to 27
"The initial idea, when we fled from Makiyivka", she said, "was to return, once things would have settled down." Lena repeats that she continually thought about her grandparents’ often repeated words, many years ago. Lena sighs as she reiterates that they cannot go back, and are preparing to leave for Israel permanently. She started weeping when we requested her to read aloud the Bible verses from Ezekiel 35:25-27 to her grandchild Eva, who will become 6 years of age shortly.
She was deeply touched by the prophets’ words, spoken thousands of years ago. The Bible verses are so appropriate, she might as well have been reading from a present-day newspaper. The family has now been in Hadera, Israel, for a few weeks. After fleeing to an unknown destination somewhere in Ukraine, they have come to the place, prepared for them by the Almighty.
Hiring of buses: Larger buses are often hired, to transport Jewish People to the consulate and airport. We are thankful that this remains possible. We are planning on returning to the east in June and July!
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 get 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 organizations pay 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.
Aliyah fieldworker Koen speaks to Jewish refugees, soon they will make Aliyah
Not an easy time for Jewish refugees
Lena was blessed with our visit and comfort