This is Krisztina Olah from Hungary. In early March, I spent 2 weeks at the railway station that is a very-very important crossing point for refugees from Ukraine to Hungary. That station is located in North-Eastern Hungary in a township called Zahony with appr. 4.8K inhabitants. On the other side of the border, there is the Ukrainian township of Chop with a population of 9K. The Tisza river is the natural border between the two towns and the two countries. The route from Chop to Zahony is 5 miles long. For the refugees who take a train on the Ukrainian side, cross the river, and arrive in Hungary that short trip means much more: When they put their feet on the soil of Zahony, they arrive in the peaceful part of Europe, where they are safe, taken care of, and where they are protected. And where they are welcomed by people of love, faith, and hope. People like the hundreds that were there to receive them. For a short time, I was one of them.
The importance of that railway crossing to Hungary is enormous because there is no railway connection between Ukraine and Slovakia, and all crossings to Poland are overcrowded. In March, trains from Chop arrived every 2 hours, day and night, and each train brought several hundred of people. There were days, when more than six thousand people arrived: so many people spent hours or days at the station while waiting for train connections or someone to pick them up by car or by bus.
I could not describe fully what I experienced there. What I felt. What I thought. I came to Zahony, because I was raised in a township nearby and I wanted to visit my parents and check the situation there. But when I entered the train station, I was not able to leave. What I saw caught me.
I saw HUMANS like us: Mothers: ladies with 1, 2 or even 3-4 children, some of those kids were disabled or with autism. Grandmothers: sometimes with a walker or a crutch, carrying the very small luggage (a backpack mostly) for the entire family. Kids of all ages, 2-weeks old was the smallest baby I met. Young women with their pets, kitties, and doggies. Foreign students: thousands of youngsters from India, Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia, and Egypt who study medicine or engineering. Foreigners: who lived and worked in Ukraine for years or decades and served as doctors, engineers, or professors. I saw so many different faces but one was always in common: it was the human face. They are all humans like us, because they are created by the same God. And yes, I did not see many men – they needed to stay in their home country.
I have no words for the courage of those people who began a journey they were not "planning." They did not cry, and they did not show their suffering. When I met them, they were humble and thankful. They focused on life over death. They carried their kids, pets, older relatives, and the most important belongings because one thing mattered: their survival. By doing so, they expressed that they believe in the future, they hope for the best, and they care about love not about hate.
This humility and love gave me the idea to set up a corner for mothers and their kids. Because most of the refugees are women and children, and they are not well taken care of. I tried to provide them a clean and quite place where they could change diapers, receive hygiene products, nurse their babies, get some baby food, let their kids play, draw, or nap in the middle of the chaos. And as a result, both the adults and the children could forget about where they are and why they came here. When people ask me why I created that babies’ corner, I don’t have the right answer. Calling? Instinct? I don’t know. But I was sure that this is what I needed to do when the very first time I smelled baby powder and diaper cream in that corner.
Since February 24, more than 5 million Ukrainian people fled from their country. More than 570,000 people crossed the border to Hungary. Most of those people are refugees and travelled to other European countries. Some 20 thousand people stayed and requested permanent refugee status in Hungary.
Please pray for Ukrainians who left the country, and for Ukrainians who stayed to support their communities as pastors, municipality leaders, and soldiers. Please pray for Russians in Russia and abroad. For volunteers and people in the neighboring countries (such as in Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Moldova). For relatives and friends in Western European countries who welcome and take care of their Ukrainian friends. And please fight in prayer for love over domination. For clear communication in the news. For wisdom for a peace agreement.
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9)
Dr. Krisztina Olah
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