As we bounced our way down the dirt road leading to a remote home in the small village outside of Tatarbunary, Ukraine, we weren’t sure what we would find. An official in the local social office told us about a woman living at the end of the road who was in desperate need of food.
When we arrived at her home, it was the usual thing we see in these small villages: A house the size of an average Swiss bedroom. A short, homemade rock wall standing around her lot. The gate worn down by time, with only rusted hinges where the gate once hung. A gaunt dog, tied up to a nearby tree, barking wildly as we walked up her dirt driveway.
Before we were even able to knock, the door swung open and a woman embraced us with a hug.
“You must be Svetlana*,” we greeted her. “We brought you some food.”
She leaned on her cane, confused and amazed. She was receiving no government aid and had no idea if her family would eat in the coming weeks. She had no income, no job, and she wasn’t physically able to work. When we handed her a food package, she was not only getting food but hope that her family would make it another month.
We do this kind of work a lot, and while each situation is unique in some ways, most are very similar and sad. Svetlana was in a hopeless situation, and our arrival was more than just an act of kindness, it was hope for a hopeless situation. As we drove away, we were reminded that this kind of life is a reality for many people all across Ukraine. Meeting her reignited our passion for providing essential, basic life necessities to those who truly may not survive without them.
There are still thousands of Svetlanas in desperate need of hope.
*The woman’s name was changed for this story for her privacy.