~ by Chris Herlinger, Global Sisters Report
“We lost everything”: It’s a sentiment shared by millions of Ukrainians uprooted and displaced during a year of war condemned by much of the world that has transformed the face of Europe, increased international tensions and caused ripples in the global economy.
“Life has changed not just for Ukraine, but the whole world,” said Sr. Yanuariya Isyk, a member of the Sisters of the Order of St. Basil the Great whose ministry is based in Kyiv. “We’re living a new life now. It can’t be the same as it was before the war. Life will never be the same again.”
The new reality is one of displacement and confusion, loss and death. Hospitals, schools and neighborhoods have been targeted in particularly brutal acts that have outraged the world. The United Nations says more than 7,000 civilians, including more than 400 children, have died because of the war, and more than 11,700 have been injured.
Even in locales far from the front, life is always on edge, with blackouts and electrical outages – Russia has targeted the country’s power grid – and air-raid sirens interrupting the afternoon idyll.
Yet, Ukrainians also speak of a renewed unity, solidarity and hope. In a country that has become one big conflict zone, the war has galvanized religious communities to open their doors to those who have been displaced and to lead various humanitarian missions.
“We’ve had to think less of ourselves and more about everybody else,” Sr. Isyk said in an interview in the small apartment monastery she share with two other sisters in a building damaged when Russian saboteurs engaged with Ukrainian forces early in the war.
The Sisters teach school to Ukrainian children. Though her work in Christian education in Kyiv remains paramount, Isyk has coordinated deliveries of food – flour, pasta, canned fish and meat, rice, and milk and medical supplies to those in need.
“Ukraine and the Ukrainian people have experience a long, difficult and painful year of Lent. Every Ukrainian has suffered during this year one way or another,” said Sr. Anna Andrusiv, of the Sisters of the Order of St. Basil.
There is no sign that the war will end soon. Earlier this month, people spoke of bracing for the worse, with many fearing a new Russian onslaught from the north.
And even amid such uncertainty, the ministries continue.
“The things people don’t understand is that Putin and Russia will not give us a real peace,” Sr. Andrusiv said. “If they give us two years, they will come back and kill. That will not be a real peace. We know there are good people in Russia who want peace. But, they aren’t in the majority.”
Ukraine is fighting a battle against tyranny in a war that has implications far beyond the borders of Ukraine, Sr. Andrusiv said. Our people are dying to protect the world.”
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