Even before Russia’s large-scale invasion, families living in rural areas of Ukraine struggled making a living from small-scale farming. Restrictions on expanding farms dating back to Communist times – and difficulty in securing loans to invest in equipment or improvements – are some of the difficulties farmers face here.

The Stel’makh family – Oleksandr (38), Nataliya (30), and their five children – live in a village in western Ukraine. There is much to trouble the Stel’makhs at the moment: first, the Covid-19 pandemic brought more hardship to a region already marked by high rates of unemployment and poverty – and now, the ongoing war continues to bring untold devastation, trauma and destruction to Ukraine, as well as inflation and an increase in prices.

Oleksandr said, “No matter how hard I work, the circumstances are always too much. We have always kept a cow, as she is an excellent nurse. Unfortunately, the two lead cows got sick and died. I looked after and treated the third for a long time and put all my energy into it, but she died too. This is a huge loss, since the cow would have been worth about a thousand dollars.”

They say that those who are born and raised in the village have learned to work hard from a very young age – and that is certainly true of the Stel’makhs. With the livestock and poultry to care for, the growing crops to tend, and all the work around the house, every pair of helping hands is needed.

As well as taking care of the family farm, Oleksandr works part time as a common labourer and is paid low wages. The family mainly survives from what they grow on their farm. Fortunately, the Stel’makhs don’t have to struggle on alone. Last year they were enrolled on Mission Without Borders’ "Families in Crisis" program – and since then, they’ve been receiving ongoing material, spiritual and emotional support.

MWB’s aim is to help strengthen and empower the family so that they don’t just survive the war and poverty – but they thrive and become all God intends for them.

Learn more about Family Sponsorship in Eastern Europe by clicking here.

Sergiy, the MWB staff member who works with the family, said, “The war affects everyone, even people living in comparably safe parts of the country. There is no safe place in Ukraine anymore.

“The Stel’makh family are Christians. They trust in God and look for comfort at the foot of God’s throne. Also, as well as everyone else in Ukraine, they’re doing everything possible to help Ukraine to victory – praying, donating, helping refugees and all who are in need. This is the reality of our lives now: David against Goliath and we desperately need God to show up.”

With all the hardship that families like the Stel’makhs face, winter brings its extra set of challenges. Winter means less work and a dip in wages, but firewood is expensive, as is warm clothing and footwear for growing children. That’s why MWB supports families and elderly people living in poverty with extra support in winter.

Now, although it is cold outside, with a glorious blanket of snow covering the landscape, inside the Stel’makhs’ home it is cosy. MWB’s support is making all the difference – ensuring that the Stel’makhs aren’t forced to choose between warmth or food.

“Thank you to the sponsors – and please pray for peace in Ukraine,” Oleksandr said.

With your support, we can help more families like Oleksandr’s survive – and thrive – through a harsh winter – and even harsher circumstances. Help us share God’s love with families in Ukraine – make a donation today.

Support our Ministry in Eastern Europe by clicking here.




Give the gift of hope and love