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A date to forget…

By February 24, 2024No Comments

24/02/2022 is a day so many of us would like to forget. A tragic date which changed so many lives on “Before and After”…date, which brought so much sorrow, tears, pain and loss to thousands. Here at Candle of Grace we were praying for this not to happen, we were hoping that Wisdom and Humanity will take upon the greed and stop the violence. Phone calls and messages received on that morning will sound like an echo forever in our memories. The area which suffered a lot for so many years was invaded. Children of Chernobyl who had so much sorrow in their lives faced more fear, including starvation, loss of their loved ones and homes…

People of Ireland responded to this tragedy immediately.  Aid was gathered and sent within a few days. From Mayo we have managed to send a truck per week for the first month and a load each month afterwards. All were volunteering day and night.

Doors of our houses opened for women and children who manged to flee from the first week of March. They have received the warmest “WELCOME” and all the support from the day of arrival. It was just amazing to see such a unity of our community and all the great cooperation of the whole country. We have lost sleep, we were not eating ourselves, but we were working non- stop to help those who were so much  in need…

Today, when two years have passed so quickly for us, as we were busy every day, we can say :” Go raibh mile maith agatto all who responded, gave us a hand and supported!

We are very proud with the results of our work. 280 people were hosted by COG from the Chernobyl area (240) and areas affected by war only (40). 55% of hosted were children, 37% woman and 8% – elderly and vulnerable  men.

Our English classes gave a huge contribution to the settling and integration process. Our Culture trips and Summer camps helped to so many from the stress and explore our beautiful Ireland. Our support with employment makes us even more proud, as most of our adults are working, some have opened their own businesses and more to open this year. The support of the host families is just amazing. Hundreds of families in Mayo alone have opened their doors and provided accommodation to those whom they never met or knew before. Everything possible was shared and provided to the guests from the other part of the world.

It is very important to mention that people whom we hosted were very grateful from the very first day and volunteered for us, too. Our center was renovated and all the aid which never stopped going is packed to be shipped by them for over a year. We are very grateful to them as well for organising events, helping in summer camp program, for translating, consulting, bringing buses of people to the Embassy, providing support with transportation and sharing their clothes, toys, bed-linen with those who have just arrived. We have showed them this good example and they have followed us.    From February 2022 until now over 150 tonnes of aid was send to Chernobyl area and areas effected by the war.  Three ambulances and two vans are serving to people and saving lives. Medical equipment, food, clothes, blankets, furniture and other supplies was given to the hospitals, refuge centers and small charities who support orphans, elderly and vulnerable.

Nothing would be possible without each and everyone. All the kindness given from Ireland to Ukraine in the last two years warms our hearts and keeps this project going. We have changed so many lives and provided safe, stress-less childhood to so many. Peaceful sky upon their heads means so much! May all the hard work of our volunteers be blessed and rewarded!