Tetiana Stawnychy, the president of Caritas Ukraine, told CNA that the anniversary of the invasion marks a moment when “the lives of millions of people just changed overnight.”
Tetiana Stawnychy, president of Caritas Ukraine, delivering humanitarian aid in Lviv, Ukraine. Credit: Caritas Ukraine
Stawnychy shared the story of a woman who was displaced twice by the war: “She said, ‘The second time my heart just broke apart.’”
The woman initially came to Caritas to receive help and humanitarian assistance. Later she returned and began to volunteer, eventually becoming a part of the staff.
While sharing her story, the woman told Stawnychy: “‘You know, every time I help somebody, it’s like another piece of my heart gets sewn back together.’”
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Caritas workers bring aid to people near Kyiv, Ukraine.
Together Caritas Spes and Caritas Ukraine have provided 3.7 million food and nonfood items; 1.5 million water, sanitation, and hygiene items; and 192,000 health services, as well as cash assistance to 107,600 people and shelter to 637,000 in the past year.
Stawnychy, who made an effort to personally visit nearly all of Caritas Ukraine’s 42 aid centers across the country, said that she has seen how creating pathways for solidarity between people has been “a healing and transformative process.”
Caritas Spes workers bring aid to people near Kyiv, Ukraine.
“It’s hard in Ukraine to be constantly living in the trauma,” she said. “You have to find a way to stay faithful, to be responding to what you see. And at the same time, find that it doesn’t also destroy you. So how do you find that resilience? Again, the way we found it is by continuing to help people and that’s really what gives us life. And I see that everywhere. It’s this continuing to act in love in the midst of war and destruction,” Stawnychy said.
“War rips at the core of what it means to be human because it rips at relationships and it creates distrust because it is an attack,” she said. “And then I feel like the work that the Church does and the work that humanitarian aid is doing or can do has the possibility to repair that, to heal it, to touch that which was created by war and to give somebody a sense out of that inner safe place, of that security by reestablishing love and relationship.”
Courtney Mares is a Rome Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. A graduate of Harvard University, she has reported from news bureaus on three continents and was awarded the Gardner Fellowship for her work with North Korean refugees.