Below is an update about how the Estonian Methodist Church has served Ukrainian refugees last year and they continue to help the refugees in 2023.
More than 126,000 Ukrainians arrived in Estonia during the war (it´s almost 10% of the Estonian population). 69% of refugees have stayed, and the rest have gone back to Ukraine or have moved to other countries.
With the help of donors and volunteers Estonian Methodist Church has been able to serve more than 2,050 refugees in 2022. The number of supported refugees is bigger than the total number of members in the Estonian Methodist Church (1,570 members). It has been a joy to see how Estonians, including Methodists, have opened their hearts and doors to the refugees.
The stories of the refugees are sad – they have left their homes and loved ones; some have no home to return to; some have lost their loved ones to the war; some struggle with fears and depression. When the refugees arrive in Estonia, some of them have only one toothbrush for the whole family; some have summer clothes on in the cold season. The volunteers in Estonian Methodist Church have tried to do their best to meet the needs of the refugees.
The financial support given by generous donors from the US and Estonia is mainly used for accommodation and food (in 2022 we accommodated more than 350 Ukrainians), but also for clothes, footwear, different supplies (hygiene supplies, medical supplies, phone cards, etc), sending 149 refugee children to camps and organizing different events.
Local churches helped refugees with information on documents, registration, schools, medical help, and so on. Christian literature in Ukrainian (and also in Russian) was printed and distributed to the refugees.
Most of the refugees who have stayed have found jobs and apartments to rent; they are learning the Estonian language; their kids are in kindergartens and schools; and they manage by themselves. But there are refugees who still need our help and people who are arriving in Estonia.
In 2023 Estonian Methodist Church continues to accommodate refugees in Camp Gideon and in the dormitory in Tallinn (at the Baltic Mission Center); support refugee kids to participate in camps. Local churches keep organizing food, supplies, and necessary items for refugees. There are big groups of refugees taking part in the local church´s activities in Jõhvi, Aseri, and in 2 churches in Tallinn. Ukrainians are active in all these churches volunteering in ministries and organizing events for refugees. There are some Ukrainian refugee kids in Children Center Lighthouse (a center for children from low-income families). Three church-owned food aid organizations regularly give food packages to Ukrainians. There are several Ukrainian refugees studying at the Baltic Methodist Theological Seminary. Several churches collect food, clothes, footwear, medical supplies, and battery banks and send these to Ukraine. Methodists in Estonia offer counseling and prayer support to refugees. Three members of the UMC in Estonia work as official counselors for Ukrainian refugees in different parts of Estonia.
Estonian Methodist Church continues to meet the needs of Ukrainian refugees. If you would like to help or have questions contact email@example.com.