JUNE 9, 2022
As war erupted in Ukraine, Iryna Makukha, a 46-year-old single sister, headed for the train station in Kharkiv. She decided it would be safer for her to leave the country. In the chaos, people boarded trains without knowing the final destination. The train Iryna was on pulled out of the station with its windows blacked out to reduce the risk of attack. Only after leaving the station did she learn that the train was headed toward Slovakia.
Iryna now lives in the neighboring Czech Republic, arriving in the capital city, Prague, on March 3, 2022. She found a job as a custodial worker and shares an apartment with two other Ukrainian sisters, also refugees. Iryna is learning Czech and has resumed the full-time ministry, which has been the focus of her life for 20 years.
“I saw with my own eyes how Jehovah takes care of us through his people. That has strengthened my faith immensely,” said Iryna.
Nearly 23,000 of our brothers and sisters have made the personal decision to seek refuge in other countries. Those who decide to stay abroad may have found a safer environment, but they still need to search for work and housing, obtain legal documents, and enroll their children in new schools, all while learning a new language. They find that their spiritual routines and the loving brotherhood are critical anchors during this time of upheaval.
The three members of the Perceac family, Anatoli, Olena, and 17-year-old Alina, are starting new lives in Romania after bombs flattened parts of their neighborhood in Mykolaiv Oblast, Ukraine. The family relocated on March 6, 2022. Being a citizen of Moldova, Anatoli was permitted to take his family to Romania. Olena describes immigrating to another country as “having to pull a tree with its roots out of the ground and move it elsewhere.”
With the help of the Romanian brothers, the Perceacs now have their own apartment. Additionally, Anatoli and Olena have both found work, and Alina has been able to complete assignments online from her school in Ukraine.
The Romanian brothers and sisters are helping to care not only for the family’s practical needs but also for their emotional and spiritual needs. The brothers and sisters regularly spend time with the family so that they are not alone in a foreign land. Olena and Alina are learning Romanian by using the JW Language app and by participating in the ministry with those in their new congregation. Anatoli grew up speaking Romanian.
“We saw Jehovah’s hand from the very beginning,” Anatoli said. “Through the organization and the support of the brothers and sisters, we feel Jehovah’s love.”
Widowed before the war, Alina Havryliuk and her 16-year-old son, Vladyslav, arrived in Suwałki, Poland, from Vinnytsia, Ukraine, on February 27. “At first, I wondered where my son and I would live and how we would support ourselves, but I was also confident that Jehovah would take care of us,” Alina said.
Alina, who is 37 years old, immediately started searching for a job that would not interfere with the meetings. She was able to find work as a custodial worker at a school. “The most important thing is that this job gives me more opportunities to participate in the ministry and allows me to support my family,” she said.
Alina and Vladyslav are learning Polish and serve as continuous auxiliary pioneers in a Polish-language congregation. Vladyslav has also enrolled in high school.
Our Ukrainian brothers and sisters are experiencing incredible challenges and changes, but Jehovah continues to give them the power beyond what is normal. They have found the words at 2 Corinthians 4:8 to be true: “We are hard-pressed in every way, but not cramped beyond movement; we are perplexed, but not absolutely with no way out.”