There is no safe place in Ukraine anymore

Helping support a family through poverty and war

“No matter how hard I work, the circumstances are always too much”

Even before Russia's large-scale invasion, families living in rural areas of Ukraine struggled to make 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 challenges farmers face here.

The Stel'makh family – Oleksandr, 38, Nataliya, 30, and their five children – live in a village in Sarny, 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.

"No matter how hard I work, the circumstances are always too much," says Oleksandr. "We have always kept cows. 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 was a huge loss."

They say that those born and raised in the village have learned to work hard from a very young age, which 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 laborer and is paid low wages. The family mainly survives on what they grow on their farm. 

But there is hope. The Stel'makhs were enrolled in Mission Without Borders' (MWB) family sponsorship programme last year – and since then, they've been receiving ongoing material, spiritual and emotional support. MWB aims to help strengthen and empower the family so that they don't just survive the war and poverty – but thrive and become all God intends for them.

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.


He continues,” The Stel'makh family are Christians. They trust in God and look to Him for comfort and peace. They, as well as everyone else in Ukraine, are doing everything possible to help Ukraine to victory – praying, donating, and helping refugees and all who are in need. This is the reality of our lives now: David against Goliath, and we desperately need God's presence."

With all the hardship that families like the Stel'makhs face, winter brings an 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.

Although it is cold outside, with a glorious blanket of snow covering the landscape, it is cozy inside the Stel'makhs' home. 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 – sponsor one today.


That is how many families are being helped through sponsorship.

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