Bringing hope to the hopeless. This one sentence eloquently describes the heart behind the mission of our humanitarian efforts . Together, we are eradicating hopelessness, replacing it with tangible aid such as food packages, coal, and other necessities coupled with simple acts of love such as a listening ear, a prayer, a hug, a smile, and a flower.
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” – Mother Theresa
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.
To read individual stories and testimonies from our humanitarian efforts in Ukraine click on the images below.
33,000 people attempt suicide in Switzerland each year. That’s an indication of the dark mental space many of our own neighbors are living in. We believe that through a simple act of kindness and a smart follow up strategy, we will see this number decrease.
One of the key projects of Ignite Europe is a community outreach program called The Seed Project, designed to bring hope to our neighbors who may be in a dark place by giving every home a nice flower, potted in a porcelain vase.
Since we know the value that many Swiss place on flowers and how they brighten someone’s day, we decided to share hope by giving every home in the small town of Seegräben a nice flower, potted in a porcelain vase. After giving all 200+ homes a flower, we were amazed at the response. One simple flower can light up a person’s day who may be in a dark place and bring hope to a home that desperately needs it.
In the course of our work on this project, we’ve had conversations with parents whose child was in the hospital fighting for her life, and they really needed to know they aren’t alone in this world. We sat with elderly who thought they were forgotten, and we listened to their stories. We had conversations with students who were so engulfed and overwhelmed by their studies and success-driven mindsets they couldn’t see the purpose of their lives anymore. In each of these cases, the flower brought hope and a ray of light into their seemingly dark lives.
That flower on a porch or a windowsill and the message of God’s love, which comes without any strings attached, serves as a constant reminder—each person has a purpose in life that is worth living for. We believe as we continue this project, we will see a beautiful light of hope and purpose ignited throughout our country and beyond.
We have distributed flowers to all 200+ homes in Seegräben and are
now taking flowers to the 24,000+ homes in Wetzikon.