It is now about four months since Russian troops invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022. Since then, many Ukrainians have fled the war. According to UNHCR, more than 8 million people have left the country. More than 5 million refugees have been recorded across Europe, of which Poland alone has taken in more than 1.2 million. Many others fled to Romania, Russia or Germany.
Nataliya is one of them.
She fled the war with her daughter and grandson. On 8 March, they arrived in Germany at a friend’s house. When they arrived, they learned that they could not stay there. Another friend then told Nataliya about the website Host4Ukraine.com, so she decided to post her request for accommodation on the website. She was amazed at the solidarity and the many offers of help she received, and even befriended a nice couple who offered her to stay with them. In the end, relatives from Germany offered to host her for 5 months, so she did not accept the offers from Host4Ukraine. However, because of her positive experience with the website, she told another Ukrainian family who had fled to Romania and had not found a place to live or sleep. This family found accommodation in Switzerland through Host4Ukraine and then travelled on to Switzerland. The father even found a job there and is now happy to be able to provide for the family’s livelihood.
Nataliya is one of many who have received help at Host4Ukraine. In total, more than 1,000 people from Ukraine have already found accommodation through this platform. There are now more than 7,000 offers and requests on the website from Ukrainians and helpers from all over the world. At its peak in March, the website had more than 30,000 visitors a day with an average time spent on the website of about 5 minutes. Due to this success, EEA decided to work with the founders of Host4Ukraine to transform the website into a coordination platform for organisations and churches. In the meantime, it is therefore not only possible to publish accommodation offers and requests, but also offers in the areas of translations, pastoral care, donations and much more.
Generally, the willingness to help in crises decreases over time. However, Ukrainians still need our help. So if you have a spare room in your home, consider offering accommodation on Host4Ukraine. If you speak Russian or Ukrainian, offer translation services. Or take care of the people around you who are traumatised. If you can and want to help, go to www.host4ukraine.com, register as an organisation or a private person and click on “Create Listing” to post an offer for refugees, or browse existing listings. You can use the map to find Ukrainian people near you who need accommodation or other things and contact them through the website.
Nataliya, meanwhile, is looking for accommodation again for the time when she cannot stay with her relatives anymore. “There are significantly fewer offers than [in early March],” she says. People are getting used to the war and going about their own business again. Those who have been helping are often tired and need rest, but the workload and people’s needs remain the same.
In this situation we can learn from Jesus’ words in Matthew 9:35-38:
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God and healing every sickness and disease. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, for they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out labourers into his harvest field.”
Jesus speaks of the need for labourers to come and work in the Lord’s harvest. Likewise in the context of the war in Ukraine, we see a lack of workers in the mission field, with many people needing help. Jesus’ solution to this problem is prayer. Let us ask the Lord to send labourers into His harvest field.
Nataliya, in any case, is grateful for the website and the help it has given to so many Ukrainians so far: “I thank the organisers of the Host4Ukraine idea. Guys, you are awesome!”