February 7, 2017. The town of Maryinka is located in the outskirts of temporarily occupied Donetsk.
Recent escalation at the front and geographic proximity to Donetsk has doomed the town to living “between two fires”.
Since 2014, the locals have been living with no gas supply and, therefore, with no heating at their homes. They were hoping that the gas supply would be soon restored but it hasn’t been fixed since. Besides, with current prices for gas, not too many locals would be brave enough to turn on their gas boilers as they have no jobs and no money to pay their bills. The people of Maryinka who have been suffering from freezing cold and despair for the last two years, have been living with a feeling that this constant struggle for survival will never be over.
Luckily, there were people in other countries who felt this pain like their own and found a way out in this situation. Each of them did their best to help.
In September 2016, humanitarian missions serving in the conflict-affected eastern Ukraine heard rumors that the Pope raised millions of Euros to help people suffering from war in Donbass. It was hard to believe that it was a real chance to receive a grant amounting from 20,000 to 250,000 Euro.
During the years of war, we gained certain experience which made us believe that grants are not for us. Mass media has been writing about millions of dollars and Euros coming into our country, but, unfortunately, neither people nor charitable organizations closely working with people in need could see this money or goods. We were accustomed to count on ourselves and on the finances were were able to raise in Ukraine and abroad. We still couldn’t believe that some organization could provide up to 250.000 Euros as a grant.
Emmanuel Association had applied to international organizations with a great number of applications to help finance projects aimed at helping people living in conflict-affected areas. Unfortunately, we received only negative answers or no answers at all. At the same time, Emmanuel’s staff continued doing their best to help. And they did a lot: thousands of people had received humanitarian relief in form of food products, bread, hygiene supplies, shoes, stoves, firewood, medical care, restoration of homes and evacuation. Nevertheless, we didn’t have enough finances to cover all arising needs.
Without hesitation, we decided to apply for a grant in the framework in “Pope for Ukraine” initiative. We had a great desire to implement projects which could change lives of people living at war. “Emmanuel” Association submitted 8 grant applications in the framework of “Pope for Ukraine” initiative: 4 of them were for large grants (up to 250,000 Euro) and 4 applications were for smaller grants (up to 20 000 Euro). The suggested projects were aimed at providing medical aid, working with children, arranging warming centers at check-points, installation of boilers and providing people with firewood, food products and hygiene supplies. We were looking forward to hearing the results to be announced on November 1. The Technical Committee of “Pope for Ukraine” initiative received an enormous number of applications and could not announce the winners within the defined terms. In the end of December, it was finally announced that Emmanuel Association received a chance to implement a pilot project “Installation of Solid-Fuel Boilers and Providing Fire-wood to Locals Living in Conflict-Affected Area” with the funds of 20,000 Euros.
The team of Emmanuel’s humanitarian mission in close cooperation with the administration of Maryinka did much investigation work in the field and identified about 400 households needing reconstruction of heating system.
At the expense of the funds provided by “Pope for Ukraine” initiative, we were able to purchase 35 solid-fuel boilers “Beaver”! The total number of boilers needed in Maryinka amounts to 394. Adding the neighboring town of Krasnogorivka, this number increases to 429 hard-fuel boilers. The progress is under way!
After talking to Yury Malashko, the Senior Officer of the Military-Civil Administration of Maryinka, it has been decided to start installing the boilers at Karla Marksa Street. Aiming at informing the locals on the project, the humanitarian team placed a banner picturing The Pope and the text of his words of blessing to the locals on the building of Civil-State Administration.
By the end of the day, all 35 boilers found their recipients!
In the next 10 days, the installations works will be carried out by the team of professionals having field-specific education and extensive experience! We heard many words of gratitude from people – to the Church, the Holy Father and His mission in our country!
Is it much to have a warm house? In February with its freezing weather, the price can be a saved human life! Thousands and millions of Christians have paid this price to warm needy people of Ukraine. God’s love has no boundaries or denominations. It never ends. It shows through people, through each of us!
In the nearest future, we will share stories of people who received long-awaited warmth in their homes. And, of course, we went the extra mile to provide at least 8 cubical meters of firewood for each household. It will be warm in people’s homes!