Imagine not being able to protect your child.
Daria’s (not her real name) mother could not protect her eight-year-old daughter when the Russian Army attacked their village. Daria was shaking with fear, hiding under the kitchen table. The rest of the family also hid under or behind furniture. The kitchen table could not stop the missile from falling on Daria. She was killed right there, in her home, terrified and vulnerable. Another rocket killed her grandfather the same day. Such is life in war-torn countries.
The Russian soldiers didn’t care that a simple family of farmers was devastated. Needing to bury your child was no reason for protection from further attacks. So, Daria had to be buried in the front yard of their destroyed home. Having the burial at the church was too dangerous.
We visited Daria’s mother while her other children played in the neighborhood of their village in Kherson, Ukraine. She is trying to rebuild what the enemy damaged. For some months, her family was among the thousands of displaced families living in Ukraine, suffering from war trauma.

Daria's mother her destroyed home. The hole in the floor is where the missile hit, killing her eight-year-old daughter. (Photo: @DannyBurrowsPhoto)

The church members in her village helped replace the roof. But the hole in the floor where the missile that killed Daria landed is still there, like an abyss. From her kitchen, Daria’s mom can look to the right and see the place where her daughter lost her life. Looking out the window, she sees her grave. The grave has been decorated with a simple wooden cross, a stuffed animal, and a scarf. Some candies and a pearl necklace are fastened to the cross. Spring flowers have been planted by its foot. For a mother, watching her little girl's grave every day, surviving war is almost not worth it. Was it not for her other children.
When spending time in a conflict zone, I am always burdened by the suffering and destruction. The returning question is always: How can we help more? Again and again, is the realization that we can do less than we would like to. At the same time, we are constantly reminded that our small acts of love mean more than we might think.
While Novi spent time in Kherson, visiting several villages that had been attacked and occupied by Russia, this was confirmed. Spending hours with children, dancing, singing, playing with the Novi Life Kits, doing art therapy, and distributing disaster relief did not bring their loved ones back. It did not stop the war. But it gave a respite from the fear, the loneliness, and the desperation. It provided tools to make life easier in the months and years ahead. Our time together communicated some of the most important things we can hear: You are loved. You are not forgotten.

Please help us by praying for Ukraine, sharing this story with others, and dontating to Novi's efforts to save lifes, through humanitarian aid and through mental care.

Oddny Gumaer


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