Operation Ukraine Humanitarian Mission

Day 8

Mihaela and the team visited the warehouse where donations are stored for distribution to Ukrainian refugees in the villages of Dranitsa and Mamaliga. There are several families who live in homes and many others live at the school and kindergarten. Mihaela distributed candy, took lots of photos and gave them a hug and a smile trying to show them some love. She met 5 elderly women who were living in a room at the kindergarten and they shared their sad stories of losing their home.

One of them showed us a gesture that a bomb destroyed her house and left a hole in the ground. Another woman, a single mom had a baby one month ago and she had with her another daughter, approximately 4 years old from another father. The daughter seemed very sad and traumatized, but smiled when she got some candy.

After that we headed on to Cernavtsi to grab some coffee and then went to Philadelphia Center to help make food bags for distribution to refugees. We also made welcome bags for the children’s arrival in the afternoon with a stuffed toy, some candy and a Samaritas stress ball. The children arrived at around 5:30PM in a big green bus. They looked tired and scared of what was ahead of them, but they were happy to sit at the table and eat a warm meal. People and Deeds organization checked everyone’s documents and reviewed with them the plan for the evening. One group was going to one location, Baptist Church Calausesti, near Suceava and the other group went to Kairos Mission Center, a school which is used a refugee welcome center. The children and their moms spent the night there and People and Deeds staff will take them to two locations, Suceava and Bistrita where they will be evaluated and placed in medical and social assistance care.

It was a rich day filled with great experiences, seeing the impact of our work closely.

The refugee crisis in Ukraine is far from over. There are many ways to help refugees in your neighborhood, from monetary support to volunteering your time. Support Ukrainian Refugees in Michigan.

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* Important Notice *

Earlier this year, Samaritas was under investigation by the state for allegations of abuse in our emergency shelter in Grand Rapids. We opened this shelter 26 months earlier for children from Central America crossing the border fleeing from horrible condition; we were asked to take in Afghan youth when there was no other place for them to go after the crisis in Afghanistan occurred. We accepted 19 youth in response to this request and our long-term commitment to help youth to the greatest extent possible at the time of their greatest need. Samaritas was one of several similar emergency shelters across the country asked to take in these refugee youth.

Due to the severe level of trauma they had endured, many of them required intensive therapy and counseling. As a result of the growing concern we had for the depth and breadth of those needs of the youth and the safety of our team, we made the decision to work with our referring partners to move the youth to other programs where they could access the higher level of trauma-informed care, supervision, and medical attention that they required. Due to state and federal oversight of our programs, we are unable to share specific details of the investigation but we were cleared of any abuse allegations by the state and all youth were transferred to appropriate residential placements where they could receive the care they needed. Samaritas continues to be a state and federal leader in refugee resettlement, including refugee foster care.


Please Contact:
Joe DiBenedetto
Lambert & Co.
(516) 637-0597

Matt Friedman
Tanner Friedman Strategic Communications
(248) 762-1430