Chad Martz of Chilliwack thought he was beyond being shocked by what is happening on the ground in Ukraine.
He and his wife Mary are in western Ukraine working with Hungry for Life International, the Chilliwack-based Christian charity, providing food, supplies and support to those fleeing Russian missiles and artillery strikes.
“There is no respite,” Martz said with anguish in his voice. “It’s not over.”
He posted a video last Thursday to his Facebook page of a school being destroyed in the Mykolaiv area of Ukraine. It’s near where they had recently been delivering food and supplies.
“This is a recent strike at a school,” Martz wrote describing the video. “You just never know where the next missile is going to hit…it is absolute terror.”
The military strikes on civilian targets, like the school, were purposefully ramped up last week, he noted.
“It’s exhausting. You don’t know where or when they’ll hit,” Martz said in his update interview with The Chilliwack Progress.
That uncertainty makes the dire situation constantly fluid, and the pace is go-go-go, he said.
“As a people they are trying to defend themselves against the second largest army in the world,” he said.
Whether striving to get food or supplies to people, like the Martzes, or volunteering at checkpoints, fighting in the military or providing resources like transportation, the Ukrainians have united.
“Something people may not realize fully is that Ukraine is defending itself from Russia with the entire country working together on it,” Martz underlined.
But it has been “very taxing” on those hosting and helping individuals flee.
At one point recently a rocket landed 300 metres from his sister-in-law’s place.
“This is extremely personal,” Martz stressed. “We had just been in that area previously where there had never been a missile strike before.”
Martz has been travelling quite a bit for food deliveries, heading into the eastern part of the country closer to the front. They’ve also met all kinds of people, as they offer respite and care in their home and community to those who’ve experienced the horrors of war first-hand.
“We’ve been host to more than 100 people, with many telling us their stories, and indescribable horrors,” Martz said. “Imagine the absolute terror you’d feel if you went downtown and a massive rocket hit an apartment, or a mall, and you’re trying to find family, or trying to get bodies out.
“These are not military targets. These are civilian targets.”
It’s especially agonizing for some elders who refuse to leave everything that’s familiar for an uncertain future in another country.
“For some, the fear of the unknown is even worse than the rockets. And the amount of death all around. It’s traumatizing for people just trying to live their lives.”
At one point in the interview, Martz’s frustration and grief turns to anger.
“I can’t help but ask, ‘How is this evil allowed to continue?’” he said.
“We are five months in, and yes, we are getting tons of help now from the west, and wouldn’t be in the position we’re in without help, but how in the world can this even be allowed to continue to exist?”
It’s nearly impossible to stay upbeat.
”We live and breathe it but I still can’t wrap my head around it,” Martz said.
“Two million people came home after leaving because it’s so hard to live outside the country. So many want to come back but they can’t because their city is constantly being bombarded.”
Somehow they carry on.
“We keep pushing,” Martz said. “Ukraine continues to fight because they know what they‘re fighting for.”
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