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Eventful journey in turbulent times

editor - 10 March 2020

From February 22-29, 2020, we had a week of fellowship in Ukraine with eight Dutchmen and five Germans. The purpose of these fellowship journeys is not only to comfort the elderly people we visit in remote places, but also to learn more about the Holocaust here, and also to work hard a couple of hours a day, because we had to pack and distribute more than 20,000 kilograms of food products.

It was the first time in Ukraine for everyone and no one knew what to expect of this journey. At a certain moment we stood at the enormous ravine called Baby Yar, not far from the centre of Kiev, where the Germans shot and killed more than 100,000 Jews in 1941. Shortly after that, we were at the headquarters of the Jewish Agency to learn more about the return of Jews from Ukraine to Israel. It was there that a Jewish couple told us that they fled from the force of arms in Donetsk in East Ukraine with their two children and that they are leaving for good soon and are grateful for the help they got from Christians for Israel in returning to Israel!

“Did we encourage them or did those Jewish elderly encourage us?”

Every month an average of six hundred Jewish men, women and children leave Ukraine for Israel. This happens from five airports in the country. We have nine minibuses to help these Jews with transportation to the airport and before that with trips to the Israeli consulate and other government agencies where these Jews have to obtain the necessary exit and entry visa necessary to enable their journey to Israel.

The nine minibuses used in Ukraine to help the Jews with transporting them for the preparations necessary for their aliyah. Also the handing out of the food parcels is done with these minibuses | Photo: Christians for Israel

The participants of the fellowship journey also got a short tour in a Jewish orphanage. They sang for the children and gifts were handed out. We were all invited for the evening meal. The participants appreciated that very much. Malka, who is responsible for the orphanage, always enjoys it when people come to visit.

During the packing of the food parcels everybody is always fairly quiet and one hears little remarks. Everybody knows that in one day 20,000 kilograms of food products have to be packed and then later that week have to be handed out, so everybody works hard. But many hands make light work! There are complaints however, when you don’t have your coffee break in time!

Later this week we loaded a truck with 10,000 kilograms of food packages for the Jewish communities in Cremenchuk, Cherkacci and Kiev. The temperatures were above zero but because of the sharp northerly wind it felt like freezing. On the way to the Moldavian border we ended up in a small snowstorm!

The programme also included visits in small groups in people’s homes in their small Soviet apartments. Afterwards you hear from the participants: did we encourage them or did those Jewish elderly encourage us? Their smile, their hospitality, the fact that they bare no grudge against us Christians, while in the name of Christendom so much evil was done to them… The sharing of the little they have; it is like landing in an upside-down world.

Here and there you could hear worried cries about the burgeoning Corona virus and what if… But on Saturday afternoon February 29, the participants traveled back towards the Netherlands and Germany. The participants will internalize the journey after all the impressions about the still unknown past of the Holocaust in Ukraine and the poverty many Jewish elderly have to cope with!

Last week we handed out the last food parcels. We now receive worried phone calls too whether our food programme is jeopardized because of the burgeoning Corona virus and whether there is enough stock for the next load of food parcels. That is why we decided to purchase extra emergency supplies just in case… In the coming weeks we hope to purchase 50,000 kilograms or more. For this reason, we have two heated storage facilities where we can neatly store everything.

With this we can further provide food parcels to all Jewish elderly. On March 12, the wholesale company will deliver a first emergency supply of 10,000 kilograms. This supply is intended for the Jewish elderly and Holocaust survivors in Odessa.

The food parcels are regularly distributed among Holocaust survivors, poor families, Jewish refugees, children and the sick. A food parcel is more than a bag of food. It’s a sign of your friendship and your support, a testimony to our Jewish brothers and sisters that they are not alone.

Will you help?
The cost of one food parcel is 10 euros or 11 US $. For this amount we buy wholesale products. The parcels are packed by volunteers and distributed throughout Ukraine. Will you help with one or more food parcels? Your support is desperately needed!

1 food parcel costs 10 euros / 11 US $ and consists of:
1 kg of sugar
1 kg of rice
1 kg of grits
2 kg of pasta
1 liter of oil
1 kg of flour
500 gr of oatmeal
1 box of tea
250 ml of condensed milk
1 can of fish
1 box of cookies
1 bar of chocolate
200 gr of coffee
1 can of peas
1 can of corn

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