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UK: Exmouth minister visits church groups working in Ukraine

UK: Exmouth minister visits church groups working in Ukraine

Josep Rosello in Uzhorod with his Hungary friends, left, and Ukrainians working in a church that has become a refugee residence. - Credit: Josep Rosello

By Philippa Davies
Exmouth Journal
April 23, 2022

An Exmouth Anglican minister has been in Ukraine meeting people who have fled the Russian attacks, and church groups there who are supporting them.

Bishop Josep Rosello of Christ Church travelled to Hungary to join two friends, Norbert and Leslie Ban, who live there and are working with Ukrainian refugees. With them he crossed the border and visited two cities in the east of Ukraine.

Josep arrived late on Sunday night (April 3) in Budapest and, the following day, visited a refugee camp near Hungary's border with Ukraine. He also met a group of nine Ukrainian families, many of whom had disabilities or special needs, who had escaped from the Russian invasion. They had been helped by Norbert and Leslie to find a safe place to stay.

The following day they visited a gipsy church whose pastor and members are working to set up a camp for up to 100 Ukrainian gipsies, in partnership with Norbert and Leslie. He said the church group were 'wonderful people, really lovely people'.

That evening they travelled to Ukraine, taking deliveries of food and toilet paper across the border. They visited the cities of Mukachevo, Uzhorod and a town 40km from another city that had been bombed the previous day, and met church groups there working with people who had fled the war zone in the west of the country.

It was in Uzhorod that Josep had what he described as 'the most touching moment' of his visit.

He said: "In a church that was helping the refugees, we sang a Christian song in Ukrainian and Hungarian and English, the same song in three languages, and that was very, very nice."

On Wednesday night they returned to Hungary, and Josep flew back to England on Thursday morning.

He told the Journal that talking to the Ukrainians had helped him to identify with what they are experiencing.

He said: "Many people, when they think of refugees they think of poor people.

"But one woman, in tears, said to me 'forgive us, we are very emotional, you have to understand that a few weeks ago we had absolutely everything, and now we find ourselves in this situation'"

"She showed me pictures of their apartment and the city, they had a life like you and I have a few weeks ago, and now they find themselves with all their belongings in a suitcase."

He said while many of the refugees are desperate to get out of Ukraine to escape the horrors of the war, they intend to return as soon as it is safe to do so.

He said: "We got to know their stories. They say, 'we want the war to finish and we want to go back.

"'We don't have a house any more, but we want to go home and rebuild our town or city'."

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