Odessa is a specific city. It has a lot of pro-Russian residents. There are many pro-Ukrainians who have left, but many others have stayed. You must be very careful about who and what you talk about. The larger shops are only open until 4pm, the smaller ones close at that time. After 4 pm there is a curfew. The prices in the shops have gone up. What else have I noticed in the shops? Most of the staff speak Ukrainian, which was very rare before. Once upon a time there was Russian spoken everywhere. Now they point out that they are Ukrainians. Some people directly say that they will absolutely not go away. They don’t believe that Russia will win. They say, “Why should we go? We are at home, we are at home.”
The city is not destroyed, it has not been bombed. There are constant alarms, day and night, sometimes one after the other. They say it could be to scare us that something is happening but this information is uncertain. Since Odessa is arming, barricades have been built in front of the port as well as next to us. The weather was favorable for Ukraine. They said the ships withdrew from Odessa because they were not favorable to the weather. It was sunny on Monday morning and cloudy again in the afternoon. The temperature is always negative, there is snow and rain. This time is absolutely not favorable. There are also constant storms.
Currently the houses have electricity and gas. Many people are fleeing Odessa. Others from Cherson or the surrounding area do not flee to Odessa. They know this is no place to escape. If the Russian troops go any further, they will come here. I was not at the train station but our Don Andrzej, a Ukrainian, was driving the woman. He said there was a tragedy out there, it’s terrible. The station is huge and there are a lot of people. They are waiting without tickets. Tragedy. Trains depart only in the evening. At night, they turn off the train lights so they are not visible. They tell us to turn off the lights in the house even after a specific hour. They no longer look, they bomb everything, be it schools or kindergartens.
There is fear but also hope. In addition, we are here to give hope to people by telling them that God is in control. Not that we have to tell God what He should do. He himself knows what to do and we just have to trust.
The priests from the diocese send assistance to all parishes. They even sent us gifts. Ola, our student who works at the hospital, came to pick up some things. I immediately thought of her because she also helps in the orphanage. Currently, Ola is a medical specialist, and she hopes to become an anesthesiologist specialising in premature babies. She works in the hospital and at an orphanage where sick children are housed. Some of the parents left their children at the hospital. They write that they leave the child and others treat them at their own expense. I gave Ola money many times, even before the war, because there were no medicines available and some expensive ones had to be brought. They also collaborated with foundations.
Ola came with other volunteers, I saw them for the first time. I didn’t even know the ambulance driver. In their eyes you can see the gratitude for not being left alone with this problem. Ola says that everything is now done for them. They don’t have diapers or milk for the younger children. We do not have such cuddles because they brought them to us, and we do not have nurseries. Now they have to bring us kindergartens and food for the children. Volunteers went directly to us in this ambulance to the delivery room for the children. We need bandages, syringes, aprons. The priest says we have to write everything to him and he will fix it. They get everything, just what they need to buy fuel.
For now we are not losing hope, we believe that all this will end. Maybe not so soon but Ukraine is unlikely to give up. We trust that Ukraine will remain Ukraine.
Thank you so much for your prayers. We feel great spiritual support because it makes no sense in human terms. And personally I feel tremendous peace and I try to share this peace with others. I keep saying we’re in God’s hands. He knows best what we need and He won’t leave us. I would like to thank you for your prayers, and I ask you to continue to pray for peace throughout all of this.
sister Teresa Matyja