Signs of hope

January 21, 2023

This perfect rainbow photographed over Kyiv just a few days ago was welcomed as a sign of hope by many Ukrainians after suffering several recent tragedies.

Ira Kapitanova, who has been sending regular reports from Kyiv since the war began, noted that January rainbows were unique phenomena and cited Genesis 9:17: This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.

As she and her fellow countrymen tried to process the tragedies and losses of the past week, she stressed the importance of looking out for glimpses of hope even in these dark times, quoting Psalm 30:5: Weeping may tarry for the night but joy comes with the morning.

She wrote about the helicopter which crashed into a preschool building in a suburban town near Kyiv on Wednesday, killing all nine people on board, including the Minister of Internal Affairs and other officials, and at least five others on the ground. Following the Russian missile attack on an apartment block in Dnipro last Saturday, this tragedy seemed to Ira to be more than one could handle. The rescue operation in Dnipro revealed 45 people killed, including six children. 

“The stress, exhaustion, anxiety, poor sleep, and poor medical care – these have been our companions since February 24, and none of these is known to prolong someone’s life, “ she reported. 

“The situation in our energy system is dire. As the strike on the apartment building in Dnipro took most of the attention, everything else lost its importance. But that attack destroyed four power-generating blocks, three major substations, and a power line, which caused a severe energy deficit. In the place where we are now, the scheduled blackouts look like two hours with electricity followed by six hours without. If your laundry cycle needs more than two hours, you are presented with a challenge. But all of this is a mere inconvenience.”

Reason for thanks

Yet Ira could also find reasons to be thankful. “When that helicopter crashed into the preschool building, over a dozen kids were already inside. The fire was spreading quickly, but the children were rescued because there were people who cared. Some of the eyewitnesses rushed inside to help get the children out. Thankfully, the teachers knew what to do – they opened all the doors and windows and handed the children out through the window to those who could take them to a safe place.”

“Three teenagers who happened to be nearby and took responsibility – they came to the open window, pulled out three kids, took them home, dressed their wounds, wrote down their names (some of the kids were in a deep shock and couldn’t speak or didn’t remember their names), gave the information to the police, and entertained the kids until their parents came to pick them up. They also helped free the street from parked cars to allow the passage of emergency vehicles. We often say that this war made our kids mature beyond their years, and these teenagers are proof of that – they care at their ‘carefree’ age.’

After the tragedy in Dnipro, volunteers set up a camp for those who needed food, warm clothes, blankets, and psychological support. The next day, the volunteers asked people to stop bringing the supplies to their camp because they had more food or warm clothes than needed. Hundreds of people from Dnipro and nearby towns opened their homes to take in the residents of the destroyed apartment building. Thousands of dollars were raised in a matter of hours because people care, Ira reported. 

“Over this past week, I noticed how much we care. After eleven months of tragic news and pain, we care and cry for the people we never knew. We feel their pain, and it gives me hope.”

Natural allies

Hope has also come from an unexpected source. While Ukrainian officials have been asking western allies for more and heavier weaponry in the expectation of a new looming Russian assault, possibly from Belarus to the north, they have discovered a new natural ally: the local beaver population.

The border territory between Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, where an attack normally would be likely, has been rendered impassable by beavers building dams and flooding the area. Normally locals would destroy the dams to prevent the flooding but the war has prevented them from doing so. Many rivers had burst their banks, submerging the trees and fields in murky lakes of cold water, according to a local Ukrainian army commander. The prospect of a Russian assault from across the border is unlikely for now despite recent warnings from Kyiv. 

“Please, don’t grow weary of praying”, pleads Ira. “Please, pray for our POWs. Russia and Ukraine have exchanged their lists of POWs, and if everything goes well, 800 Ukrainians may soon return home (in exchange for 200 Russians). Please, pray it happens.”

Till next week,

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