Due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing humanitarian crisis there, and as refugees seek shelter in Europe, we want to be supportive of these efforts in and through this congregation and beyond. Watching these events unfold is heartbreaking and can make us all feel helpless in the face of brutality and lack of concern for human life. Our church has an ongoing partnership with Bob Gamble, Executive Director of This Child Here, an organization that supports vulnerable youth and children in Ukraine.
This Child Here
"This Child Here" serves with families displaced by the war. Thousands of people have fled cities in the east and arrived in Izmail, Ukraine in the west. As many fathers are in the military or still protecting their homes in places now dangerous, these families often consist of mothers and children. We provide products from grocery stores, and centers for activities, including: sports, music, art, dance, exercise, and English language, and programs led by psychologists, all for children and for mothers. Through these activities, summer camps, and the supportive community we have built, we offer therapy for the trauma suffered by these families.
In October 2022, Bob Gamble and Olya Balaban of "This Child Here" visited New Orleans and came to the SCAPC Chapel to give a presentation on their ministry.
Every Day in Ukraine
A mother and child watch their home burning.
Matthew, age 12
Michael, age 14, and his dog watch their apartment building and the grocery store burn
Eleven-year-old Ksenia draws her story – how together, with her mother and brother, they lived for two weeks in the basement, under constant shelling from tanks and rockets.
"The people we meet each day are re-defining home and hope. Their house or apartment is in a battleground, occupied land, or destroyed. We meet them at the store, 'get what you need and we will pay for it.' This is not only to help them financially, but to say we care. We talk with each family and invite them to our Centers for sports and creative activities. We aim to do more than give away aid. In time, our Centers life our summer camps, become places they belong. Come in, take off your shoes, put them on the rack. You're home." - Bob Gamble
“In all twenty days in the basement, we never once felt safe, Ira tells me. The bombing did not stop, the basement shuddered from explosions. In rare moments of peace, it was possible to go out to cook food on a fire, but then we saw the courtyard and a street full of dead people.” - Ira
"Every day children gather in the collection of rooms lower than street level we call 'The Center.' On Sundays the mothers come for art therapy led by a psychologist. They talk, they laugh, they weep. Hope begins with tears. Tears mean letting go. Tears also mean joy. People don't weep at death, right away. Denial is the first stage. But tears as a sign of hope.... are always immediate." - Bob Gamble
“Here is what I notice. In a country at war, we linger longer in an embrace. I feel it every day from mothers, children, staff people. The common greeting is to touch cheeks and make the kissing sound. Here we grasp each other. As we lift another, we are lifted.” – Bob Gamble
"We learn every day to live in conditions of constant anxiety. Russian missiles and reconnaissance drones are flying in the sky above us, an air raid signal is howling almost every hour, news comes from neighboring cities about bombed sites, injured civilians." -Olya Balaban, staff person, This Child Here
"The largest part of our work is with children, who come in four age groups, from 4-year-olds to older teens: a litany of crafts, choir, guitar and English class, Monopoly, Mafia, UNO, and games led by our psychologist to build trust and community." - Bob Gamble