Boone – As fighting continues in the Ukraine, every aspect of survival becomes even more difficult. Samaritan’s Purse, Franklin Graham’s Christian evangelical organization headquartered here in Western North Carolina, continues to reach out and provide assistance to those suffering and in need. On February 24, the organization deployed disaster response specialists to Eastern Europe. Since then, they have served more than 4 million people throughout the first five months of their response to the conflict. Samaritan’s Purse currently has approximately 40 staff within the region, working to alleviate the physical and spiritual suffering being experienced by families. “Ukrainian families are hurting and in desperate need of prayer and support as millions flee for their lives,” said Franklin Graham. “We want to meet the needs of these families in their darkest moments while pointing them to the light and hope of Jesus Christ.”
Through 26 airlifts—24 of which were carried out through their DC-8 cargo jet—Samaritan’s Purse has transported hundreds of tons of relief items, including an Emergency Field Hospital, medical supplies, food, and hygiene kits. They continue to bring in new shipments of supplies nearly every week and are working in close partnership with churches in Ukraine to get these items to communities where the need is urgent. They have distributed over 19,000 metric tons of food throughout Ukraine in partnership with the local churches.
Clean water is a necessity
One major difficulty is the lack of clean water. How does a person survive without clean water? The Samaritan’s Purse water systems and newly constructed freshwater wells have provided more than 7.5 million liters of water to Ukrainians. The WASH efforts are focused in areas where, due to the fighting, the primary water source is brackish. They are working through local churches where they are drilling wells and installing reverse osmosis systems to produce approximately 1500–1800 liters per hour for each system—providing safe drinking water. What could be more important and basic than clean water?
This difficult question is something that some residents of a Ukrainian town grappled with after attacks on their water supply lines.
One church gathered whatever containers they could find—ranging from buckets to iron barrels and a 500-liter plastic container—and began hauling water from wells on the outskirts of the city. Loading up two vans with their hodgepodge of vessels bearing the precious commodity, they brought water back to the city and began distributing it to people in buckets or other plastic containers. Some elderly, disabled, and sick individuals could not leave their apartments to come get the water, so the church began bringing it to them by car. The difficulty of the situation intensified with a shortage of fuel that was only available at skyrocketing prices. “It was not an easy period,” said Pastor Andriy.*
“When people found out that a well would be drilled and a filtration system installed, they couldn’t believe it,” Pastor Andriy said. “You have to see the people to understand how grateful they are; they won’t stop expressing their gratitude.” Even in the outlying neighborhoods, people stop us to say “thank you for this water.”
Pastor Andriy’s congregation is one of nine Ukrainian churches for which Samaritan’s Purse has provided clean water, with nearly 30 more to be added throughout the country in the near future. The advanced water treatment systems are capable of handling up to 2,000 liters an hour in a three-step process. First, as water comes in from the well that is being drilled, it is put into a 500-to 1,000-liter storage tank. There it begins a pre-treatment process in which sand and charcoal filters remove sediment, odor, and color. The water is then put through a reverse osmosis system that takes out dissolved salts and bacteria. From there, it goes to a larger storage tank that is connected to a tap stand where people can come and fill their jugs with the safe, fresh water.
Early in the Ukraine conflict, Samaritan’s Purse supplied its own water filtration systems, but now they are partnering with a Ukrainian company to create them, contributing to their local economy and allowing for greater ease of maintenance on the systems in the future.
The Field Hospital
The original field hospital that was flown to Poland and then transported overland to Ukraine in March was handed over to the Ukrainian Ministry of Health. It proved specialized trauma care to those impacted by the conflict. In mid-June, the emergency outpatient clinic in central Ukraine and the emergency field hospital in Lviv were closed. These facilities were handed over to the Ukrainian Ministry of Health for continued use in eastern Ukrainian cities. Samaritan’s Purse staff will assist in training them on the operation of these units. (Scan QR code for the March article.) Also in June, Samaritan’s Purse concluded its operation in Moldova, where they were able to care for thousands of people through food distributions, medical care, and by providing desperately needed items such as mattresses, blankets, and hygiene supplies.
Samaritan’s Purse does have an ongoing emergency outpatient medical facility that is still operating in Ukraine and continues to see patients, daily. Samaritan’s Purse is committed to helping Ukraine over the long haul and is currently transitioning their relief efforts from a temporary Disaster Assistance Response Team to a long-term country office. “As the conflict in Ukraine continues, Samaritan’s Purse remains committed to serve families during this difficult time to meet both the physical and spiritual needs present on the ground. By providing food, clean water, medical supplies, and more, we want to remind those suffering in Ukraine that God loves them and has not forgotten them,” Dave Philips, Director of International Proejcts for Samaritan’s Purse.