There are many families decimated by poverty, violence, conflict, war, Covid-19 and even death. Places like the Donbas region, where Ira Mischenko and her family live.
Their story is one of struggle and heartbreak.
“We are cast-aways. Our neighbours avoid us because we’re poor, although it’s not our fault,” says Ira Mischenko, who is now bringing up four children alone, after being abandoned by her husband.
Ira is understandably embittered: “My former husband doesn’t support us in any way. I don’t know what kind of monster he is,” she says. Ira also worries about the long-term effects on her children of the abuse and cruelty they suffered when their father lived with them.
“There are a lot of dysfunctional families where children are abused and neglected. Drug and alcohol addiction amongst adults is common. Many are chronically depressed, sapped of the will to change their lives. I find this really sad. Drugs, alcohol, sleeping around – people turn to these things to numb the pain, but they are like fish dying in a poisoned river who can’t swim against the flow,” says Oleg. It's a bleak picture but change is possible – and the power of God to heal and to change lives is something which Oleg Serbo, (Mission Without Borders Co-ordinator) has personal experience with.
Ira feels alone and overwhelmed by her circumstances. She cries as she tells us that she has no one to help, her parents having died some time ago. Her life is one of constant stress.
The family live in a house that looks condemned, with a roof about to collapse and a bare clay floor. Two daughters share a space that is little more than a closet.
Thankfully, the local church and community became aware of the family’s needs and started supporting them. They have also now been enrolled in the Mission Without Borders’ family sponsorship programme.
Ukraine is a tough environment; fears that armed conflict could erupt in Eastern Ukraine are being reported in the media as recent remarks and events point towards escalating tensions in the region.
Oleg Serbo, a MWB staff member in Slovyansk, Donetsk oblast, Eastern Ukraine, said, “This is our pain and our daily reality, that the war continues. The economic situation is deteriorating. Many people live on the brink of survival, far below the breadline. I believe that people’s spiritual awakening is the one and only answer to what we see here."
He says, “When it comes to the threat of war, we’ve already become used to living with that sense that things could take a turn for the worse at any given moment.
“In some ways, people are braced for the worst to happen, but at the same time, they hope that somehow everything will settle down and there will be no full-scale war.
“In general, probably like everyone else, we simply don’t know what will happen tomorrow, and we live in the hope that everything will be fine. Believers continue to pray for peace.”