As the war drags on in Ukraine, millions of people have fled the country, with more leaving daily.
Michael Messenger is the president and CEO of World Vision Canada. He was at the border in Romania when Russia's invasion of Ukraine started.
"World Vision has been on the ground assisting with the flow of refugees across the border into neighbouring countries. Primarily our work has been in Romania," said Messenger. "World Vision has had a presence in eastern Europe and Romania for many years, so we were among the first organizations right on the ground at the border welcoming people from Ukraine who are fleeing the conflict."
World Vision is providing refugees with things like a warm place to stay, food, clothing and psychological first aid.
"Children have been traumatized by what they've seen and what they've experienced. Add to that, many of them have had to leave their families behind, including their fathers or older brothers," Michael explained. "Coming alongside kids to help them process their feelings, helps to mitigate concerns later on, and helps them to be a bit more resilient in the face of this unbelievable suffering and loss."
With families having to leave their husbands and older sons behind, Michael says they are seeing an increased risk of women and children being taken advantage of or exploited.
"We know from other refugee settings around the world that people who are being forcibly displaced are often the most vulnerable and at risk of exploitation, issues of child protection, and even human trafficking. We're beginning to see that already in this area," said Michael. "We are particularly concerned about children who are travelling unaccompanied."
Michael says it's important for Canadians to get involved, and he says there are many practical ways to do this.
"I always say the first thing is to join with us in calling, and praying for peace. We know that unless the conflict ends, there is not going to be anywhere for these refugees to go back to," said Messenger.
Another way Michael says Canadians can help is by donating.
"World Vision is on the ground in the neighbouring countries of Romania, Moldova, and Georgia, as well as in Ukraine, trying to get desperately needed supplies to help families survive now, as well as in the months to come," said Michael. "It's a critical time as this conflict continues."
On Saturday, April 9, 2022, World Vision Canada is spearheading a national night of prayer and worship called ONE Night for Ukraine.
"We're partnering with Bethel Community Church in Winnipeg, but the event will also be live-streamed. We are going to have special worship from the ONE Worship band, as well as Jordan Janzen from The Colour. We will also be sharing some updates from the field so we can be specific in our prayers," said Michael.
"I think it's going to be a powerful gathering of Christians from across the country. A chance or us to lift our voices together, to pray for peace, for resolution for the conflict, and restoration for Ukraine and of course all of those lives that have been impacted."
Today on Connections, Michael shares what World Vision is doing for those in Ukraine. He'll also share how Canadians can help.