Bordighera (Agenzia Fides) - "I am very worried about my land, but now we just have to join forces to give our maximum support to the Ukrainian people". This is what Friar Minor Fr. Faustino Kushnir OFM, of Ukrainian origins, from the convent of the Holy Land in Bordighera, in the province of Imperia, currently engaged in welcoming families fleeing the war, reports. "Four mothers have already arrived at the convent with six children aged 7 to 10 and a 16-year-old boy, all from Odessa. In 27 hours they traveled 80 kilometers and arrived at the border with Moldova, from where they joined Bordighera. This intervention is made possible by the commitment of the Friars Minor working at the Antoniano of Bologna, who have extended the solidarity network of "Operation Bread" to Ukraine, with interventions in the country, at the borders and in Italy, where thousands of refugees from Ukraine are arriving. Giampaolo Cavalli, director of Antoniano, underlines: "We are preparing to face this emergency, to provide support and help all those who need it. Everything must be ready to welcome them and give them a little serenity in the face of horror of war". In Ukraine, "Operation Bread" supports three Franciscan friars in particular, in Konotop, Odessa and Kyiv, who are currently helping the many people who are desperately looking for help and shelter. The Convent of Our Lady of Fatima in Konotop is about 90 kilometers from the Russian border. "The friars - reports Fr. Kushnir - immediately opened the doors of the church to welcome civilians, mainly mothers and children, providing them with a safe place to sleep and a hot meal. Many elderly people have remained in their homes and the friars go to their homes every day, bringing them food and assistance. Finding resources for all, continues the religious, begins to become difficult, food, medicine and all that is necessary for those who lose everything are becoming scarce. In Odessa, the Franciscans, along with other religious, distribute a hot meal to hundreds of people every day. We are in constant contact with our Ukrainian brothers - reports Fr. Faustino - These days it is very cold in Ukraine and, in addition to food and accommodation, there is a great need for anti-flu medicines. From Italy we are trying to help them so that no one is left alone".
The situation is also difficult in border countries such as Romania, where in Brăila, the Franciscan Poor Clares of the Mariele House of Smiles "are a point of reference for mothers, children and the elderly who manage to escape", explains to Fides Father Cavalli. The nuns offer food but also psychological support, they take care of the coordination of volunteers and material resources, "creating a network of connections with other associations that can intervene to help women and children tried by the war", underlines the director of Antoniano. In the coming days, the Franciscans await the arrival of more people at the Sanctuary of Montenero reception house, near Imperia, as well as in Bologna, where the Antoniano is working in a network with local institutions and other realities of the territory to ensure the reception of all. "Hundreds of thousands of displaced people are seeking shelter in another country. Houses are destroyed, hospitals damaged. Those who are still in their homes often lack water and electricity. These people are part of us - concludes Brother Giampaolo - they cannot be left alone. Now, more than ever, we have to help them". (ES-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 12/3/2022)