Mykolaiv: the water treatment plant built with funds from the Italian National Federation of the St. Vincent de Paul Society was inaugurated and work has begun on a second plant. Electricity generators and basic necessities have arrived in the areas where the battle is being fought.
Turn on a faucet and you see clean flowing water. To us this may seem like the most normal thing in the world, but it is anything but. The Russians destroyed the Mykolaiv aqueduct just under a year ago. Since then, only mud has been flowing into the houses, or rather, what is left of them … it is dark, brown and smelly. It is not even possible to draw water from the wells, because the water table is contaminated by brackish seepage from the Black Sea.
Here, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul has already built a water treatment plant, capable of supplying drinking water to 2,000 people. A second one is under construction. Drilling began about ten days ago. The first plant, financed by the Italian National Federation of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, was inaugurated on April 2, 2023 in the presence of Italian members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Departing on March 30 from Abbiategrasso and Sesto Calende, they traveled for 15 hours in 6 vans filledwith humanitarian aid. After three hours of waiting at customs, they finally entered Ukraine, and arrived in the cities of Odessa and Mykolaiv.
Neither fatigue (which they say they feel) nor fear is visible on their faces. They passed by completely destroyed buildings. A group of brave volunteers who joined the #STOPTHEWARNOW caravan, after putting on bulletproof vests, made it all the way to Kherson, amidst the anti-aircraft sirens and the whistling of bombs. But there are those who are even braver, like Father Vitaliy Novak, a priest of the Congregation of the Mission in Odessa who does not hesitate, with a group of volunteers, to go into the war zone as far as the town of Bachmut, where one of the worst battles in history is being fought. He drives an unrecognizable van, completely riddled with bullets, with no bumpers and broken transparent plastic sheets instead of windows. He goes out laden with faith and hope and, all too often, returns laden with pain. Yes, because he crosses enemy lines to bring wounded civilians and soldiers to safety, but sometimes it turns out that he is transporting corpses that he then buries.
Among the numerous aids given by Luigi Uslenghi, a member of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, who arrived in Ukraine with his wife Cristina and their daughters Beatrice and Rebecca, aged 21 and 19, there were also funds to buy a new van. Part of these have been donated by the Italian National Federation Society of Saint Vincent de Paul and another by Caritas Ambrosiana. Thus, Father Vitaliy and the volunteers who help him will be able to use a safer and more comfortable vehicle.
But in the areas newly liberated by the Ukrainian army, it is not only water that is lacking … electricity is also a problem. That is why, in addition to the food that the volunteers from Italy has unloaded in Ukraine, there are also electric generators. One, the largest, partly subsidized by Cardinal Zuppi, was delivered to the Pediatric Hospital in Odessa.
Numerous portable generators were donated by the Milan Central Council of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul to the Odessa community of the Vincentian Missionaries and neighboring facilities.
But the attention of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul with regard to the Ukrainian refugees does not stop here, because 11 different have already been financed in various parts of Italy. Through the Solidarity and World Twinning Sector of the National Federation of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, the activities of the Congregation of the Mission in Ukraine have been supported, and a significant donation has been made to the orphanage in Zaluchansk.
And, who knows, maybe we will not return home empty-handed this time either. Yes, because this is the fifth trip of Luigi Uslenghi and many of the other volunteers and members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul who accompany him, and on previous trips, after unloading supplies and basic necessities, the vans have been used to transport war refugees to Italy, including an entire family of disabled people who is still housed in a house in Lombardy.
Press Office of the Italian National Federation of the Socieity of Saint Vincent de Paul.