Five months after the invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has taken stock of the support sent to the country. A total of over $7.5 million has been provided in emergency aid and other initiatives to assist the Catholic Church in its unwavering support of its people.
Following initial immediate aid packages, the international charity had pledged an additional $3.75 million over the past three months to help the Church in Ukraine. And with the recent approval in July of 34 new projects, support provided by ACN has surpassed $7.5 million in 2022.
“The worst consequences of the war will not be felt in the short-term; the psychological, physical, and humanitarian effects will only become apparent later. Only God can heal the deeper wounds, but we can try to soften the more immediate needs and support the local Church so that it can remain on the ground,” says Thomas Heine-Geldern, executive president of ACN International.
“Thanks to ACN benefactors, priests and religious can offset shortages of food and basic hygiene and medical products felt by many of the internally displaced people. Furthermore, they can provide psychological and spiritual support to all those who are traumatised from losing their homes or loved ones,” explains Heine-Geldern.
“We are in daily contact with the whole country,” adds Magda Kaczmarek, who has served as ACN’s head of section for Ukraine for the past 14 years. “In this way we can identify the projects that the local Church considers to be a priority and be flexible in our monthly aid.”
An overwhelmed population
“There is tremendous pain,” continues Kaczmarek, who visited Ukraine in April. “It was a very emotional experience. We met with refugees who did nothing but cry. It was important just to hug them. But there were also refugees who were completely dumbstruck. I remember one young man, who must have been around 30, who had not said one word since the war started.”
“The lion’s share of the money is covering the basics, such as electricity, water, heating, and so on,” Kaczmarek explains. “During these five months, we have been able to give plenty of help, and we will continue to do so. We need to provide our people with hope,” Magda Kaczmarek said.
“The Church is the anchor that keeps the boat steady through the changing tides,” says Kaczmarek. “The main concern and fear that everybody feels has to do with the coming of winter, but now they are also worried that by the end of August, the shortage of food and fuel will have become even more serious,” she explains.
Magda Kaczmarek explains that the Church acts as a refuge, literally and figuratively. “The churches have opened their doors to everyone and now host thousands of internally displaced people in all dioceses. However, this represents a financial challenge. The lion’s share of the money is covering the basics, such as electricity, water, heating, and so on,” Kaczmarek explains. “During these five months, we have been able to give plenty of help, and we will continue to do so. We need to provide our people with hope,” Kaczmarek concludes.