The “SEED” (Something to Eat Every Day) project in cooperation with “Pope for Ukraine” Initiative is being actively implemented in the town of Slavyansk, Donetsk region.

As of March 12, 4349 packages  of various vegetable seeds have already been distributed from the warehouse in Slavyansk the missionaries serving in the frontline towns and villages and will be further distributed to the beneficiaries.

It is planned that the delivery of potato seeds will begin on March 15th (depending on weather conditions).

Thanks to budget savings, the number of project’s beneficiaries will increase by 1500 households to make 11,500 families in total! This is a real joy for many locals because not all of them responded to the advertising of the project on time or haven’t submitted their applications in a timely manner.

Victoria and her two sons Yaroslav and Stanislav live in the front-line town of Zalizne. Despite the war, the family is not going to leave their home town. The reason is very common – they have nowhere to go. Viktoria is unemployed so she takes any random jobs to provide for the family. Last year, the family could not afford to buy seeds for their garden. Her two only options with the available money were whether to buy basic food or buy seeds and she had to choose food. Her garden was empty and they had to buy everything from grocery stores.

Very often, Viktoria had to borrow money to provide food for her sons. This year, Viktoria was very happy to learn about the “SEED” project. The applied for the seeds and soon received almost this most valuable gift from “Pope for Ukraine” Initiative.

These three girls – seven-year-old Karina, five-year-old Kira and four-year-old Zhenya are currently living with their aunt, Nadia. The woman is not the girls’ official guardian but they are her family. The girls’ mother is not involved in her children’s life: for many days the girls could be wondering around their frontline town waiting for their mother at 5 am while she would be having fun with her friends.

The kids would go to their grandmother’s house to get something to eat. They had to do it secretly because their Mom wouldn’t let them talk to the grandma. Their aunt Nadia applied to local authorities many times to deal with this situation and become an official guardian for the girls. Except for three nieces, Nadiya has a son Dmitry who is a local college student. Their great grandmother lives with the family too. The family owns three gardens, where they work every week to prepare food for winter.   

Katerina Ivanovna is 94 years old. At the age of  thirteen she was taken away from her parents, with whom she lived in the Kursk region in Russia and brought to work at the “Southern” mine.

We were brought here in cattle wagons. It happened in winter, it was freezing and there was nothing to eat. It took us a couple of weeks to get here and people were dying around me. The convoy would throw out the dead bodies as rubbish. They did nothing to help us warm up. One day they gave us a loaf of bread for ten people to share…. This is how we arrived to  Magdalinivka station, which is about 10 kilometers away from the mine and we had to walk there. I was placed to live with a rich local family. After working at the mine, I was supposed to help this family at the farm, and they had many animals.

I worked diligently. After the first month, at the age of thirteen, I received my first salary and I bought a bag of bread. I had thought that if I had a lot of bread, I would be rich. When the lady of the house saw my purchase, she sat with me and explained that I shouldn’t buy so much bread because it would dry up. Then we dried up my bread and fed it to the cattle”, Kateryna shared her story.

She knows the real value of food and the value of life as well. She lives very close to the outer check-point, after which the territory of war begins. There were 5 times when shells would fall in Katerina’s garden but God has kept her safe. Despite of her respectful age, Kateryna still works in her garden. Her bitter experience of hunger as a child taught Kateryna to always think about food in advance. She was very thankful to receive the seeds for planting, because she could hardly afford them with her small pension.

We are grateful to Pope Francis and all Catholic Christians from Europe who answered the Popes call for help the conflict-affected people of Donbass!