In late February 2022, the eyes and the hearts of the world were all focused on Ukraine. Missile and artillery attacks in major cities led hundreds of thousands to leave their homes, separating families and causing a humanitarian crisis. One year later, the war continues. Millions of Ukrainians have found refuge in other countries, but many remain, including two members of Big Ocean Women.
Their number is small, but their impact is great. And their courage. And their wisdom.
Vika and Yulia are friends in Luiv, the largest city in western Ukraine. Vika explained how the lives of Ukrainian women have changed and how they have learned to help solve problems and meet needs in their challenging circumstances:
We had to become “men” for our families and our communities, and for our country. Some of us did some things for the first time, like driving through a few borders of a few countries with humanitarian aid all alone, or like some women who had to carry kids for miles alone because their husbands went to fight in the frontlines. We all, or at least many of us, started to learn about military and medical aid, working double shifts to be able to donate to the army and to the humanitarian funds. We had to learn how to identify between the sounds of different military planes, between the sounds of bombs hitting the aims or anti-air defence missiles hitting the rockets.
In a very touching, authentic moment, Vika expressed,
I guess the hardest thing for me personally was when I understood that I cannot cry anymore, at some point at least I could not cry anymore, seems like we cried out all the reserve of tears.
Though they are far from the front lines, the war has impacted every part of their lives. Yulia shared,
Everything has changed. As for me, as a wife and a mother, in the first weeks there was a feeling of disorientation, but the priority was to keep my family safe. Since then and until now I am eager to help the army, the wounded and those fleeing from the occupied territories the best I can. So in my opinion most women’s lives here are dedicated to the only aim – “when light will win over darkness” – and start all over again in honor of those who will never come back.
With the motivation of light winning over darkness and a belief in the model of positive impact, Vika and Yulia have both helped with many efforts to provide assistance in their war-torn nation. They helped provide thermal underwear, warm winter boots, needed clothing, and medical kit supplies for military men at the frontline. They also supplied clothing, toiletries, sweets and books to injured military personnel who are recovering in hospitals in Luiv as well as civilians who evacuated to the west of the country. In addition, civilians in liberated territories were furnished with necessary medication.
It’s not just adults who have been blessed by the positive impact of these women. Part of the great calling of womanhood is reaching out to help the children in our care. A group of children who were evacuated in the summer to the Transcarpathian region of Ukraine were provided with sweets, toiletries, and warm clothes to help them celebrate the Christmas season.
As a WAVE of Big Ocean Women, Vika and Yulia also helped direct the money raised and donated by other WAVEs throughout the world to needed projects within their country, including buying a medical car and helping create medical kits for soldiers. To those who united around the world, Yulia expressed,
Many thanks and our deepest gratitude to all of you for your donations, support, thoughts and prayers! It means the world to us and our homeland! Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the Heroes!
When she was asked what message she would like to share with other women in the world, Yulia said,
From my personal experience I would like to say that no matter what the circumstances are, try and seek to be a better self, don’t be shy to look for support and you will feel tremendous inspiration and striving to go on.
Vika’s message of perspective and wisdom was,
Hate breeds only hate, we need each other in this world to reconstitute the belief in goodness and justice. We cannot and we should not be silent or blind to the suffering of others because small injustice breeds global injustice. And from my personal experience of this year, two things – 1) nobody can understand the tragedy unless they go through it themselves; 2) this world still has lots of goodness in it, we just need to remind the world about it once in a while.
These two women are a light in the darkness, demonstrating the powerful impact of the goodness and courage of women working together. May our hearts, prayers, and efforts continue to unite with our sisters in Ukraine.