Could you choose between EATING or HEATING?

“Families all over Eastern Europe are being forced to choose between buying food or hearting their homes this winter.”

"Even though we desperately needed help, no one seemed to care about us".

But when we met Lyudmyla, she showed real concern for us”, says Olga Kravchuk. I can’t remember much of my childhood, just some half-forgotten memories’, says Olga Kravchuk. ‘One of my earliest and best memories is of sitting on my father’s knee. I remember his big hands, the smell of our New Year tree and of burning firewood from the stove. I was born and grew up in this village. After leaving school, I moved to a bigger town to find a job and met my husband there. That was ten years ago, and we now have six beautiful children, ranging in age from ten to one. They are the joy of my life”. 

Olga is telling us her life story from her run-down home, which has no indoor sanitation and is bare of furniture and household appliances. Outside in the yard, Olga’s six children play in the thick snow. Winters are harsh in this part of Ukraine, and the Kravchuk family rely on firewood for both heating and cooking, but it is expensive to buy.

Olga’s husband works as a labourer at a patrol station, and he does not earn enough to support his large family. Social security is very limited, and the economic situation in the country is worsening, with those who already have little being hardest hit.  

Co-ordinator Lyudmyla tells us how the Kravchuk family became part of the Mission Without Borders (MWB) family support programme:  

“In 2019, we were looking for new families to help. The Kravchuk family were in crisis. Both parents were depressed, there were some issues with alcohol and relations between them were strained. The children weren’t receiving the attention and care they needed. There were days when they didn’t eat, but the parents were too ground-down and worn-out to do anything to change the situation”. 


Olga recalls that difficult time: “Even though we desperately needed help, no one seemed to care about us. But when we met Lyudmyla, she showed real concern for us. After that first visit, she suggested that we became part of the family support programme. It was a big relief for us, especially as winter was approaching and we had no money to buy the firewood we need to heat our home and to cook. But soon we received a large amount of firewood from the Mission. It was such a miracle!” 

Olga recalls that difficult time: “Even though we desperately needed help, no one seemed to care about us. But when we met Lyudmyla, she showed real concern for us. After that first visit, she suggested that we became part of the family support programme. It was a big relief for us, especially as winter was approaching and we had no money to buy the firewood we need to heat our home and to cook. But soon we received a large amount of firewood from the Mission. It was such a miracle!” 

“Now it’s always warm inside the house, which is so much better and healthier for the children”. 




Lyudmyla is aware that there is much to be done to help this family and vows that, “We will do everything possible to improve their situation”. As well as meeting their immediate material needs, Lyudmila is concerned for their spiritual welfare too:  

“Our goal at MWB is to help people to meet Christ”. We will support this family and show them the love of Christ in a practical way. Olga’s heart is very open to the message of the Bible. We openly talk about faith. I hope that after quarantine restrictions are ended, the whole family will attend church. 

Thankfully, the Kravchuk family live close to Lyudmyla and her five children. Olga`s children are warmly welcomed in Lyudmyla’s home, and they have all become friends.  

Lyudmyla has noticed a change in attitude in the family, one she hopes will continue as their relationship grows:  

“We try to be good examples and to show the love of God in our daily life. At MWB, we pray for all the families we support, asking God to reveal Himself to these needy people. They need to know that Jesus is not only the answer to their needs, but also the key to happiness and a better future”. 

Heating and fuel poverty is prevalent in Eastern Europe. Low-income households found that families can only afford to heat half of their homes during the winter months, and so reduce the amount of living space they occupy. This results in family members sharing bedrooms, and general overcrowding which can have severe impacts on the family dynamic. Child abuse, partner abuse (including intimate partner violence), child marriage, child labour, abandonment, and neglect are just a few. Further health issues due to exacerbated and poorly insulated housing can easily occur over the colder months. 

36%

36% of rural households reported that they could not heat their homes sufficiently. Of the rural households with inadequate heating, nearly a quarter had no heating at all for more than one day at a time. Report by UNOCHA 

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