“Our work continues”, says Christian aid organisation hit by a Russian missile
Matthias Schöni, director of the Swiss Licht Im Osten, says a new truck with help is already on its way to Ternopil. After the attack, “we have received many food and financial donations”, he says.
ZÜRICH · 18 MAY 2023 · 13:47 CET
Ternopil, in the western part of Ukraine, suffered a Russian attack on the night of Saturday, 13 May. One of the missiles hit the large warehouse of a Christian organisation serving hundreds of families in the city.
The fire destroyed goods valued in hundreds of thousands of euros stored in the help centre of Licht Im Osten (Light in the East, in German). “Our local partner Ivan and his team had stored and distributed tons of aid there since the beginning of the war”, the aid organisation said hours later.
“Now everything has burnt down completely. All the furniture, a forklift truck, many relief supplies, clothes and food were lost”. This included carefully prepared food packs that volunteers planned to distribute to 200 families a couple of days later.
Firefighters could not do much to stop the destruction of the warehouse. / Photo: LIO
But the shock will not stop the aid offered by this Swiss-based relief organisation with 30 years of experience in Ukraine. “The work continues”, the director Matthias Schöni told Evangelical Focus. He has visited the country four times since the full-scale war started in February 2022.
After the shock, more solidarity
In Switzerland, a wave of support towards the LIO team came after the news of the attack. “We have received many food and financial donations since Saturday. And one entrepreneur just gave us a new diesel forklift worth 30,000 Swiss Francs!”, Schöni says.
Meanwhile, a new truck to Ternopil left on Wednesday and is expected to deliver aid materials just one week after the attack.
Words and action
At the moment, over 15,000 internally displaced people are supported by LIO’s programmes. 40 trucks with aid have been sent to Ukraine since the start of the invasion.
In all this efforts, the group’s Christian identity shines through.
“Word and deed is strongly lived by our team. In Ternopil, our partner, Ivan, coordinated and implemented refugee and emergency aid with all 15 churches in the city when the war started. We confess Jesus in every practical help, and in our centre we have a pastoral care/counselling area, and a table with Christian literature”. For anyone interested in attending a church, options of available Christian services are listed.
8 help centres in Ukraine
Licht Im Osten (LIO) is a mission and aid organisation started over 100 years ago by a Mennonite preacher and a Reformed pastor. Their focus was always Eastern Europe, and the fall of the Berlin War helped the group multiply its impact in many countries, especially in places like Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.
In Ukraine, LIO’s support on the ground scaled up after the of the armed conflict in 2014. Now, they coordinate a network of 30 local partners with specific actions such as evacuating civilians, distributing tons of food and wood, installing electricity generators and giving Christmas gifts to children.
LIO coordinates 8 help centres in Ukraine, including the one in the city Ternipol.
Learn more about LIO's work by visiting their website.
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