Help and Healing Along the Way

March 30, 2022 • Ukraine
Samaritan's Purse medical teams are hearing stories and meeting needs of fleeing Ukrainians.
Their health is the last thing on their minds as they flee conflict in their country. But then their health catches up to them, in the trains and bus stations. That's where so many are receiving medical care and experiencing the love of Jesus Christ through our medical teams.

As refugees flee Ukraine, Samaritan’s Purse is meeting medical needs at critical points on their path.

Responding to the Crisis in Ukraine
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Close to 4 million people have fled Ukraine since the conflict began, with another 6-7 million people internally displaced. Many families are transient within Ukraine—moving from one town to the next searching for safety.

So many Ukrainians are coming through the train station and other transit point in Lviv.

Lviv Train Station, a transit point for many fleeing Ukrainians

They often spend just a few nights in a new location before it too becomes a target of the war and forces them to travel onward. Others have settled in cities further west or chosen to cross the border with only the possessions they can stuff in a rolling suitcase or a backpack.

Their eyes are haunted by the violence they’ve witnessed, but they keep pushing forward. It’s their only option for safety.

Along their route, Samaritan’s Purse is responding at critical points of need—providing urgent medical care, cleaning wounds, bandaging injuries, and praying for them before they continue westward.

We are running medical clinics at both the downtown train station and the local bus station in Lviv. Tens of thousands of people funnel through these points each day. They are escaping war. They’ve survived nearby missile strikes, lost loved ones, and had their families ripped apart.

Along their route, Samaritan’s Purse is responding at critical points of need before they continue westward.

They are focused. Their minds are singularly set on getting to safety. Time is precious. They won’t make a detour to take care of themselves medically. The only way to meet their needs is to be strategically positioned along their path.

“The train station is a raw, unfiltered, frontline experience,” explained Peter, a nurse at the train station clinic. “People are confused, distraught, crying, and injured, and we get to be that first point of contact when they land in what is considered a safer city in Ukraine and the one last final push to get to a NATO country.

“We’ve seen everything from war injuries to a cardiac arrest to just the sniffles.”

As refugees pour down the steps of the train station or clamber to buy their bus ticket west, they pass by a white Samaritan’s Purse tent, bearing the cross logo. Dozens of patients come inside each day. Many are struggling with high blood pressure, headaches, nausea, dehydration and other health problems exacerbated by stress, trauma, and days on the run. Their anxiety surfaces in their vital signs.

“They are really, really tired. Physically, they are just doing the motions,” explained Gabi, a Samaritan’s Purse nurse at the bus station. “We are in a privileged position where we can tide them over until the next part of their leg. We don’t do the whole journey, but we can honor and love them in this section of what they are going through.”

They won’t make a detour to take care of themselves medically. The only way to meet their needs is to be strategically positioned along their path.


Tetyana

Fleeing Ukrainians find us at train and bus station clinics where our medical teams provide comfort and care in Jesus' Name.

Fleeing Ukrainians find us at train and bus station clinics where our medical teams provide comfort and care in Jesus’ Name.

“It was terrifying to hear that sound.”

A missile struck Tetyana’s apartment complex in Kharkiv. She survived, but she knew the next time she might not be so lucky. Civilian casualties were becoming more and more common in her neighborhood.

“It was terrifying to hear that sound,” Tetyana remembered. Windows shattered and part of her apartment building crumbled.

After having her blood pressure checked, she picked up her backpack to continue on. She resolved, “We are holding on, just holding on.”


Valentina

Valentina came to our clinic after she injured her leg running into a bomb shelter during an air raid.

Valentina

“I am happy that people are so caring here. I thought my injury was serious, but now I can be calm about it.”

As she rushed into a bomb shelter in the midst of an air raid, Valentina fell and injured her leg. In that moment she realized her only hope of survival was to try to escape. At 73 years old, she fled from Kharkiv while her husband of 52 years stayed behind, ready to defend his beloved country.

“My heart is eager to go back, but I have to flee from Ukraine,” she said as she described the bombs falling in her own neighborhood.

She came to the Samaritan’s Purse clinic, concerned about her leg injury. After a thorough examination, the team assured her that with ice, elevation, and rest her leg would properly heal. This simple treatment will be difficult for Valentina to accomplish in the coming days, but their compassionate care calmed her fears.

“I am happy that people are so caring here. I thought my injury was serious, but now I can be calm about it,” she said.


Violetta

Violetta came to our clinic with symptoms of stress after days of traveling.

Violetta

“Bombs and missiles are everywhere.”

Violetta arrived at the train station clinic complaining of nausea and a severe headache, most likely caused by the stress of the multi-day journey away from the throes of war. At the clinic, she received medicine to help ease her symptoms.

“Bombs and missiles are everywhere. Houses are being ruined,” Violetta said. “Children are scared—dead bodies and casualties are everywhere.”


Oksana

For two weeks, Oksana hid in her basement with her children and grandchildren as missiles rained down around them.

Oksana

“There was an explosion blast near our house where we live. It’s really hard and complicated to talk about it.”

For two weeks, Oksana hid in her basement with her children and grandchildren as missiles rained down around them.

The buses and trains were overcrowded. It was impossible for them to leave so they hunkered down in Kharkiv, praying and hoping they would one day make it out alive.

“It was really hard for me. The whole city was bombarded by bombs, and the school was rained by rockets and missiles. There was an explosion blast near our house where we live. It’s really hard and complicated to talk about it. We were not able to sleep at night because we permanently heard sounds of bombs and missiles,” Oksana said.

Finally, they found a way out, but what’s next for her family is unknown. The doctor prescribed pain medicine for her ailments and encouraged her with prayer.


Olya and Kimal

Olya rushed into the white tent carrying her two-year-old son, Kimal.

Olya and her son, Kimal

Many patients are in a hurry and anxious to keep moving.

Olya rushed into the white tent carrying her two-year-old son, Kimal. For days, he had suffered from vomiting and diarrhea. He was lethargic and dehydrated when they arrived.

The medical team wanted to complete a full exam and further assess his need for IV fluids, but time was ticking. She came into the clinic with less than five minutes before her bus was scheduled to depart. She was visibly conflicted—should she catch the bus west with her sick son or pause to receive medical care?

In the end, she chose to bundle her son up for the cold weather and push forward. The doctor gave her advice to help her son stay hydrated, but in their fast-paced escape, the role of Samaritan’s Purse was to love and support them in their journey—no matter what that looked like.


In Jesus’ Name

Ukrainians are facing many fears and dangers and are grateful for the kindness of our medical teams--there to treat illness and to share the love of Jesus Christ.

Ukrainians are facing many fears and dangers and are grateful for the kindness of our medical teams–there to treat illness and to share the love of Jesus Christ.

“We are here to show them the love of Jesus in a time that is so dark in their lives.”

Like Olya and Kimal, many patients are in a hurry and anxious to keep moving. Some will only sit still for five to 15 minutes before they are on their way again—catching the next train or hopping on a bus. The moments that our doctors and nurses have with them are short, but they take every opportunity to be the light of Jesus to them on their way.

“We’re not here just to treat the physical ailments of these patients,” said Shannon, another Samaritan’s Purse nurse serving at the bus station clinic. “We are here to show them the love of Jesus in a time that is so dark in their lives—to step in for just a minute to show them God’s love and just be a safe space for them.”

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family hugging, taken from Poland on Ukraine border
Responding to the Crisis in Ukraine Samaritan's Purse is responding to growing needs in Eastern Europe as fighting continues in Ukraine. Millions of refugees have fled to nearby countries; millions more are displaced within Ukraine. We have scores of Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) members on the ground in Ukraine, as well as additional staffers in Moldova and Poland. Among our relief efforts, we're providing medical care in western, southwestern, and central Ukraine. We're also working with church partners to distribute food and non-food relief items.

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