Our indoor playground is currently closed due to construction. Keep an eye on our website for updates.

The Church at Work in Ukraine

By Claire St. Amant
In eLetter
Back to Blog

Most people can’t imagine what it would be like to live in a war zone, much less try to go to school in one. Unfortunately, thousands of Ukrainian children are faced with this difficult reality every day. Since the war began in 2022, Ukrainian schools have never stopped educating the next generation. They have had to reimagine their educational models to account for prolonged periods of remote, underground learning, in bunkers and basements, when air raid sirens indicate threats.

This is a world apart from my experience in Ukraine 16 years ago. After graduating from Baylor University in 2008, I spent a year as a Peace Corps Volunteer in a small town in Western Ukraine. I taught English at Tysmenytsya School No. 1, serving grades kindergarten through high school.

This same school is now a refuge for many Ukrainians who have fled more intense fighting in other parts of the country. The population has nearly doubled as families have moved farther west in search of safety. As I prayed for my friends and former colleagues, I reached out to check on them and ask what I could do to help. The most common response I received was simply “Thank you for remembering Ukraine. Please don’t forget about us.” It was heartbreaking to think that Ukrainians believed that the rest of the world might forget about what was happening to them.

Ukrainians are proud and resilient people, surviving harsh conditions on multiple fronts for their entire existence. Asking for help is not something that comes naturally, and years passed before my Ukrainian friends told me about a tangible need: laptops. The entire school, with a population swelling to 950 students and about 100 faculty, is using just one small computer lab, with desktop computers. When students have to go underground, they cannot take the computers with them.

My friend Tetyana told me that 12 laptops and 12 printers – one for each grade – would allow teachers to provide remote learning options and take-home assignments when in-person classes are disrupted by the war.

I created an online fundraiser and raised a portion of the funds through my Tuesday night Bible study group and various connections on social media. But it wasn’t until Irving Bible Church got involved that we actually met our goal. After one of Barry’s sermons about the church body and how unique and beautiful our differences are, I reached out. I explained the need in Ukraine and my connection to it, and I was so grateful and amazed by IBC’s response. The church stepped in and filled my fundraising gap completely! I am still thanking God for this wonderful answer to my prayers.

Logistically, I have partnered with Ukrainian Action, a London-based, US-tax exempt charity started by fellow returned Peace Corps Volunteer Jeffrey Hartman.

Its primary purpose is to buy vehicles in the UK (pickups, ambulances, SUVs) and then drive them to Ukraine. The vehicles are filled with humanitarian supplies, and in the end, even the vehicles themselves are donated to Ukrainians. I’m currently working with Jeffrey to plan the laptop and printer delivery for the late spring or early fall.

I am so grateful to the IBC congregation for its generosity that allows these God-gifts to go out into the world where they are needed most. I will continue to share updates and photos when the laptops and printers arrive at Tysmenytsya School No. 1. Thank you so much for being a church on the move!

Ukrainian boy

We Recommend Reading Next: