Adapted from a testimony submitted by Dr. Eric Morgan with Sojourners United

The door to our van opened. We had just traveled to the village of Krasnohorivka in eastern Ukraine, only a mile from the Russian/Ukrainian front-line, where people had gathered in the roads for the medical clinic and food distribution. The woman greeting me on the other side of the door smiled, despite my puzzled expression. “I never forget a face," she exclaimed. "You were here before!”

Nine months earlier - July 2022

Smoke plumes after a rocket strike.  | Village residents fleeing via their only mode of transport. Summer 2022. Photos courtesy of Sojourners United.

Sure enough, we had been there nine months before. As we approached the village in July, we saw five plumes of smoke in the sky, and a stream of people on the roads. Some in a car, many on bikes, most on feet. The site of our distribution and clinic had been rocketed by the Russians five minutes before. Fortunately, the rockets whistled over the crowd, destroying an empty store behind them. No one was injured and we relocated to an alternate location to give out medicines and food items.

The Mission Continues

Now, we'd returned to the same village. Fortunately, this time no rockets disrupted the efforts to get food and medicines to these people in great need. Yes, there was plenty of evidence of rocket strikes to this village. There were broken windows in almost every home. Many roofs and some parts of houses were destroyed.

Yes, there was the constant sound of artillery firing. Imagine yourself in an intense, never-ending thunderstorm. Most of the lightning strikes 1-2 miles away, but occasionally, it strikes very close, causing you to jump. That's what it is like.This time, while we had occasional nearby strikes, there were no whistles indicating close inbound rockets. Not only do you hear these rockets, but you also feel the explosions.

A stairwell clinic. Late winter 2023. Photo courtesy Sojourner United.

The elderly, chronically ill, and Russian sympathizers were often those who remained in these villages. Typically, over 90 percent of the people leave these villages, which often have no power, no cell phones, no operating stores.

Distributing medicines and medical supplies. Photos courtesy Sojourners United.

In July, we had been struck by how these needy villagers did not hoard. Back then, when we offered them medicines for diabetes or high blood pressure, and non-narcotic pain medicines, they would often decline, knowing that we were going to other stops that day where there would be other people in great need. Now, on this return trip, we noticed increased desperation. People didn’t hoard, but they never declined. And always, they were grateful when we gave them an extra months’ worth of medicines.

Usually, these villages had their own pharmacies and clinics. But the proprietors were often the first to flee the villages when they came under fire in February 2022. As a result, the closest pharmacy was over an hour away if you had fortune to have access to a car that could drive that distance. Almost everyone there did not.

It was a blessing to have been able to bring medicines that were so needed for people in great need. They were grateful, and remember these small acts of help.

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