Kyiv, May 23, 9:55 pm

By Michele Dunne, OFS

FAN Executive Director Michele Dunne joined a delegation of high-level religious leaders who traveled to Kyiv in an emergency intervention seeking to contribute to ending aggression against Ukraine and to pray for a just peace.

What follows is a brief description of her first impressions.

The organizers of this faith leaders’ delegation to Ukraine predicted a 14-hour drive from Warsaw to Kyiv, and their prediction was correct almost to the minute. At the border, there were long lines of trucks—miles long—(see photo) waiting to cross from Poland to Ukraine as well as hundreds of passenger cars, and almost as many trucks waiting to cross back into Poland on the other side. Having a permit in hand from the Polish government, our busload took only about 90 minutes to cross.

Once into Ukraine, the landscape became dystopian, as natural beauty contrasted with human destruction. We took a northern route eastward towards the capital, passing miles of gorgeous pine and white birch forest and hundreds of farms, but many of the fields looked fallow—whether unplanted due to the war or not yet showing crops was not clear. There are checkpoints made of concrete blocks, tires, and metal draped with camouflage every mile or so on the road and at the entrance of every village. Most of the gasoline stations were closed; at one large rest stop all the normal pumps were closed, but around back there was a small gasoline tanker truck filling up cars. Outside the station market there was a small display of rosebushes and apple trees for sale, somehow a touching exhibit of normalcy and hope.

As we drew near to Kyiv from the west, devastation from Russian attacks began to appear. Several small bridges were destroyed, and the bus had to navigate deeply sloping earthen berms in place of them. In the towns of Borodianka and Irpin, apartment blocks, gasoline stations, and even a children’s amusement park lay in charred ruins. In Kyiv itself, the city seemed rather quiet, although the fact that many residents were returning was apparent in the queue of at least 40 cars at an open gasoline station.

We will rest tonight after a long journey and tomorrow begin our program of prayer vigils, meetings, and perhaps some service.

Peace and all good.

Go to Day Two

Published in: on May 23, 2022 at 4:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

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