As a sign of solidarity with the many Ukrainian refugees in Lithuania, the Lithuanian ISHR section launched a large Christmas campaign in the Ignalina and Vilnius area. 100 particularly needy Ukrainian and Lithuanian families received Christmas packages with food, personal gifts and toys worth 50 euros.
This Christmas in Lithuania, the horror on the other side of the border, in Ukraine, remains ever present. 71,000 people have fled here from Ukraine. As the war rages on in their homeland, many are still trying to grasp that they are no longer safe in their own country. Building their own lives and daily routines while fleeing is also complicated by financial hardship. Solidarity with the refugees is great especially among families who themselves come from very poor backgrounds.
“This most brutal war, so very close to us, has been going on for so long, many Lithuanians are also in stress – our neighbors are Belarus and Kaliningrad, the tension is growing every day between the population as well” reports Lithuanian Section Chair Jurgita Samoskiene.
In these difficult circumstances, the ISHR Christmas packages brought a moment of relief to those in need and also showed the poor Lithuanian families helping refugees that their good deeds are not forgotten.
The large team of hard-working volunteers and helpers of IGFM Lithuania, which has been working closely with the Caritas Lithuania team for many years, bought the gifts, packed them and brought to the families even in the most remote places, sometimes under the most adverse conditions:
“To deliver the parcels proved to be a big problem because many families live far away, mostly – in small towns and villages … In December it was freezing cold here with up to -20 degrees and it snowed so much, many roads were not cleaned, the helpers had to push their cars, get tractors to help or even got stuck in the snow until the rescue arrived…”
Despite sometimes unbearable weather conditions, all gifts have been delivered in time. “There were so many moving and impressive moments during all these visits,” said Jurgita Samoskiene, “such as a simple farmers family in the Ignalina region with three children, who don’t have much themselves, but had nevertheless taken in a refugee family of five from Ukraine. Or an elderly old lady who receives just 200 euros pension, but a Ukrainian woman with 2 small children lived with her. All these encounters with people touch us and show us how strong and united we must stand together in the face of war.”
ISHR Lithuania together with social workers, social pedagogues and the mayor selected families with very low incomes, many children and family members with disabilities to give them joy for Christmas. The crowning of the action were two joint Christmas parties with music, pastries and drinks on 29.12.2022 in Ignalina and in Vilnius at Caritas. The package recipients, representatives of ISHR Lithuania and Caritas and representatives of the local authorities and press celebrated together.
The participation of the Lithuanian Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Monika Navickiene as well as the Lithuanian Caritas directors Audrone Kairiene and Deimante Bukeikaite showed how elementary and important such moments are in these difficult times.
The ISHR would like to thank all the many hard-working volunteers who, with so much heart and soul, gave the Ukrainian war refugees in Lithuania a piece of security through this action.