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Easing the dread of winter in eastern Europe

winter, Christian Aid Ministries

Winter is coming. Imagine living in a poverty-stricken village where temperatures often drop below freezing at night. Biting winds sneak through cracks in the doorways and windowpanes. The cold leaves you shivering, even with a small stove and layers of clothing and blankets.  Scenes like this are a reality for many people. To them, winter brings a sense of dread. How will we stay warm? they wonder. This question hangs heavily over needy families in Kazakhstan, the elderly in Ukraine and Romania, displaced people in Syria, and others in various countries.

Why is winter such a challenge?

For families who already stretch their income to provide food, clothing, and shelter, winter adds a huge hardship. “We have to borrow money to buy wood for the winter this year,” said a Romanian father. Some families gather twigs, plastic, cardboard, or anything else they can burn for heat. Others dress in multiple layers of clothing or huddle under blankets inside their homes. Some keep only one room of their house heated.

The war in Ukraine deepens winter struggles in Eastern Europe.

The conflict is spiking prices of natural gas, firewood, and coal, beyond what most people can afford. Missiles and gunfire have damaged thousands of homes in Ukraine. Because of this many people face the reality of spending winter in badly damaged or windowless homes.   Winter months are especially hard for the elderly. In countries like Romania and Ukraine, many are left alone. Their small incomes barely cover basic needs, much less heating expenses. One elderly Romanian woman tore down her old barn and used the lumber for firewood. Years of hard work have taken their toll on many elderly people, leaving them reliant on others to haul their firewood or coal and split the wood.  Daniela, a Romanian mother, is the primary caretaker of her five youngest children. Her husband abandoned them. He was addicted to alcohol and sometimes beat his family.   Left without a breadwinner, Daniela and her children live in an unfinished house with no kitchen or bathroom. Her limited income hardly covers their daily needs.   Romania’s bitter winters bring even more expenses. In past years, Daniela and her children walked behind a combine at harvest time, picking up leftover corn cobs they later burned for heat.   But this heating option is not always available. “This year, the corn was not harvested because of the drought,” says Daniela, “so we hope in . . . God that He will take care of our wood needs.”

Easing the dread

Each year we receive many requests for heating aid. Through our supporters’ gifts for the Warm-A-Family program, we provide heating resources in Romania, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and other places. This aid includes firewood, coal, and stoves. We also supply funds that recipients use to buy firewood or pay heating bills.   Last year Daniela, mentioned above, received funds and was able to buy firewood for the first time in years. “My children and I thank you for all the good you do for us,” she said.   George lives in the country of Georgia, located in the Caucasus region. An accident in 2020 left this father of four confined to a wheelchair. because of the accident he is unable to continue his truck- driving job.   “With winter coming, we didn’t have money to buy firewood,” he said. “I was really worried and didn’t sleep at night. I was praying to God . . .” Then George and his family received a truckload of firewood. “Now our house is warm,” he said, “and we’ll have firewood for the winter.”   From Daniela, George, and many other recipients who have felt the warmth of God’s love through your care, thank you! If you would like to help others stay warm this coming winter, your support will be a blessing.

To help support the Warm-A-Family program, please click the button below to give a gift.