19 April, 2024

Tavriski Christian Institute Restores Damaged Homes in Kherson, Ukraine

by | 9 January, 2024 | 0 comments

By Valentin Siniy and Laura McKillip Wood  

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has caused much suffering in the city of Kherson. Russian troops occupied the city during most of 2022, destroyed the Antonovski Bridge, a major span over the Dnipro River, and in June 2023 destroyed the dam at the nearby town of Kahovka, causing extensive flooding.  

Tavriski Christian Institute (TCI), which has trained Christian leaders for 25 years, relocated from Kherson to Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine, at the beginning of the war. TCI’s campus in Kherson is strategically located near the Antonovski Bridge; early on, Russian troops used the campus as a military base, but they later vandalized, looted, and destroyed it. Dozens of other educational institutions in the city suffered similar fates.   

MINISTRY IN WAR CONDITIONS 

Since the beginning of the war, TCI has been actively involved in helping people in the city of Kherson and the surrounding region. TCI has helped evacuate about 600 residents of Kherson to safer western regions of Ukraine. Volunteers with TCI have provided more than 1,500 tons of food to people in and around Kherson; these volunteers have risked their lives to drive large delivery trucks back into the war zone. Most of the vegetables they have delivered were grown by Ukrainian farmers. TCI workers also have delivered seeds to local farmers and citizens living in rural areas around Kherson in hopes of preventing future food insecurities.   

BEFORE-AND-AFTER PHOTOS OF THE FLOODING REPAIRS

RESTORATION OF HOMES IN FLOOD ZONE 

After the Kakhovka dam was destroyed, TCI team members immediately went to Kherson to distribute water pumps, generators, special rubber clothing, and other equipment. TCI helped families pump water from flooded houses, remove damaged furniture, and evacuate.   

In conjunction with an organization called Worldpartners (which has offices in the Netherlands and United States), TCI inspected and selected homes that met the criteria for restoration. Over the final three months of 2023, six houses were completely restored. Work on four other houses is continuing. Some of the homes that had standing water for many months require extensive restoration, almost complete rebuilding. Worldpartners has also provided furniture, household appliances, bathroom fixtures, and generators.  

REACTIONS OF THE HOMEOWNERS 

TCI’s efforts with Worldpartners helped Lyudmila, 50, and her mother, 80, remain in their home with their pets. Despite their difficult living situation, the women wanted to remain in the city where they have lived for their whole lives.   

Lyudmila is grateful for the support with reconstructing her home, but she also is thankful local workers are receiving opportunities for short-term employment. TCI incorporates local workers into the repair of these homes. That is important, because the war devastated hundreds of business enterprises in Kherson, causing thousands of people to be without permanent work. The short-term work restoring houses has provided many with the opportunity to earn a living.  

Halyna and her two sons also faced difficulties restoring their house. But with support, they installed windows, restored the water supply, and finished the walls with plasterboard.  

Restoring the flooded homes in Kherson is dangerous work because the Russians shell the city every day, frequently killing civilians. The residents, TCI employees, and other workers risk their lives to do this important work.  

WHAT’S NEXT?  

TCI is going through the most difficult period of its 25-year history, but the institute continues to look forward. The school’s management intends to restore its Kherson campus after the war ends. A fund is in place, consultations with designers regarding the reconstruction of the campus are occurring, and a lawsuit is being prepared before an international court to recover funds for the destruction caused by the Russian invasion. In the meantime, TCI has been training ministry students for two years in Ivano-Frankivsk. Students receive classroom training and practical training, often volunteering in TCI projects.  

TCI intends to relocate to Kyiv in the future; it is actively looking for property to purchase. Over the past two years, TCI has moved its rented offices in Ivano-Frankivsk three times as the size of its student body and TCI team continue to increase.   

TCI remains faithful to their commitment to serve God and train future church leaders in Ukraine, while also having added to that list the task of ministering to those in war zones!  

Valentin Siniy serves as president of Tavriski Christian Institute.  

Laura McKillip Wood, former missionary to Ukraine, lives in Papillion, Nebraska, and writes about missions for Christian Standard. 

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