On Ash Wednesday, pray for the people of Ukraine

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, a time of reflection, fasting and repentance, and with people’s thoughts in recent days focused on the terrible plight of the citizens of Ukraine who are under bombardment by the forces of Russia, Pope Francis is appealing to everyone to “make Ash Wednesday a day of prayer and fasting for peace in Ukraine and to pray for all the Ukrainian people”.
The Weekly Observer is asking our readers to support the aid agencies which are working on the ground in Kyiv and other cities, towns and villages. Many agencies are accepting donations, such as the Irish Red Cross Society, The Irish Refugee Council and Concern, to name just three. The Irish Red Cross has already received significant donations, but has advised against sending emergency goods to Ukraine as it can be difficult to get them into the country and distribute them to the right people. While the charity praised the Irish people for their ongoing generosity, it said that airports in Ukraine are closed and transportation systems are under pressure. “Making cash donations to organisations like the Red Cross or other organ-isations responding to the crisis in Ukraine allows for standardised emergency relief goods to be sourced locally,” a spokesperson said.
Having said that, several collections are being held in the mid-west. For example, Pavel, who works with Nicky Cotter in Dromtrasna is, along with his friends, organising containers of essential supplies to be sent to the Ukrainian refugees in Poland. An Siopa Milseán in Abbeyfeale is accepting items such as blankets, sleeping bags, camping mats, towels, shampoos, shower gels, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, sanitary products, nappies, toilet paper, dry foodstuffs, pasta, rice, tinned meat, fish and vegetables, baby food, chocolate, tea and coffee. Please keep an eye out for other collections and fundraisers which will be held in the coming weeks.
Commenting on the conflict in Ukraine, President Michael D. Higgins said this week that, “The hearts of the Irish people go out to all of those who are suffering from this completely unacceptable, immoral and unjustified violence. Our television screens carry images of all those mothers and babies crossing borders in order to flee the mayhem which is being inflicted upon them by an invading powerful neighbour operating with total disregard for the principles of international law, and of those brave Ukrainian people struggling to defend their homes and country.
“At times like these, it is essential that the peoples of the world come together and demand the peace that in the Charter of the United Nations was not only an alternative to war, but where our best hopes for humanity lie. I call on everyone to use the tiny glimmers of hope which we have seen to bring this dreadful nightmare to an end and restore peace,” he said.