Interview with Helena Konova – Irish Mission (IM) Sponsor for Adventist Community Services.

Irish Mission humanitarian response to Ukrainian crisis

Sharon Platt-McDonald, BUC Director, Adventist Community Services.

SPM – Helena, please share your initial thoughts and response to the Ukrainian crisis with our readers.

HK No one likes war. It doesn't bring anything good: only suffering, tears and damage. When the first Ukrainian families arrived in Ireland, we were blessed with having our Ukrainian church member - Natasha Didkivska, who has lived in Ireland for a couple of years now. She led our response to this crisis with her heart focused on her family and friends in Ukraine. God is using her in miraculous ways.

SPM– What are some of the interventions Natasha has been undertaking?

HK Natasha is our primary coordinator for all Ukrainian refugees coming to Ireland. She has agreed to provide her phone number on the IM website. It works perfectly. Anyone interested in coming or who would like to help families come to Ireland can ring her. She will get all the details and then contact the closest pastor. This way, we know how many refugees we have here. They are all scattered around various counties.

SPM – I imagine it would be essential to keep in contact with the new arrivals.

HK – Yes. Following the initial contact, Natasha keeps everybody in Viber groups. Everybody can be in touch. She is posting different types of information such as accommodation, job opportunities, administration, advice on coming to Ireland etc. It is all beneficial. Now she is coordinating about 60 refugees here.

Sign,Of,Ukrainian,Flag,On,Child's,Cheek.,Ukrainian,Geopolitics,GlobeSPM – What about integration into church life – how are you facilitating that for the SDA refugees?

HK Natasha is trying to help families to participate in churches. She is in touch with the Cuisle Centre in Dublin Ranelagh. Together with Heather Keough, who leads the Cuisle Centre, they have organised 'Welcoming Sunday'. It was a big success. People came, shared food, and most importantly, had a chance to chat with each other. They all felt very blessed that day.

Natasha and Heather are scheduling another Sunday to support those families. She has many other ideas about how to help. God willing, we will be doing more for refugees.

SPM – That's excellent news. Do you have any personal stories that you can share with our readers?

NK – Yes. There is one from Cork:

Thanks to Natasha, we have 11 people living in Trabolgan (Holiday Homes), three living in Youghal, and two living with our church members' families in Clondulane. Those places are about 40km from our church. All the refugees are involved in church life. God has blessed us with Dmitry and Elena Melnikov, who have lived in Ireland for almost five years now. They both speak Russian.

On Sabbaths, Dmitry will organise transport for everybody. He and his wife will prepare Sabbath School, and when we have the main service, Dmitry will be translating. We have also organised 'Welcoming Potluck' to let them know they are part of our church family. Other church members invited them for a birthday party.

 Our next activity will be a trip with the Adventurer and Pathfinder Club to visit Fota Animal Wildlife Park near Cork.

SPM –This is so inspiring, Helena! Any final comments for our readers?

HK All this would not be possible without our church members and our pastors across the Mission. We need everybody involved. If you can help with a smile, do it. If you can help with transport, do it. There are many opportunities to respond to this call. We want to create a welcoming, friendly and family atmosphere, providing a safe place, a place for healing. God has unique ways how to use us. Let Him do it.

SPM –Thank you, Helena. May God continue to bless your ministry abundantly.