~ Thomas Scaria, Global Sisters Report
An Indian Catholic nun and her associates are working round-the-clock to help stranded students and others fleeing war-torn Ukraine.
“God is using me to save people from death in Ukraine,” said Sr. Ligi Payyappilly, the 48-year-old superior of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Saint-Marc in Mukachevo, Ukraine.
Payyappilly, and 17 sisters of her congregation are giving shelter and food to the distressed students besides helping them cross the Ukrainian border to escape to countries including Hungary, Romania and Slovakia.
“Being in Ukraine for over 20 years, I have a lot of contacts and networks that helped me carry out this mission so far,” Payyappilly told Global Sisters Report, just before her scheduled two-hour sleep. Her convent in Mukachevo in western Ukraine is some 480 miles southwest of the national capital of Kiev.
People helped by Payyappilly’s team profusely thanked the nuns.
“We never thought we would be alive now,” said Vignesh Suresh, a third-year student of medicine who hails Payyappilly as “God’s angel who came to help us when we were totally lost.”
Suresh said he and 45 other Indian students were stranded at the Polish border for 15 hours when Payyappilly’ and Sr. Christine Tymurzhina, a Ukrainian, came to helpo them.
“The sisters took us to their convent in their vehicles, hugged each of us with their love and warmth, gave us food, a warm hall to sleep in and escorted us in the morning to cross the Romania border,” Suresh said as his friends slept on the train.
Payyappilly said Suresh was among about 1,000 foreign students her convent has helped so far.
She said most students reached them in a desperate state. “They had not bathed for many days or eaten food. They were mentally shocked and physically weak. So our first priority was to give them a comfortable stay before taking them to the border,” Payyappilly said.
Payyappilly said the sisters are flood with phone calls from panicked parents after a Catholic website in Kerala published information about their services.
Payyappilly said once the people cross the border safely, they consider the mission accomplished and look for other lost ones in Ukraine.
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