New Horizons Rebuilds, Restores, and Renews Lives In Ukraine
When Russia started invading Ukraine in February 2022, many Ukrainians had to deal with the reality that the war could damage their houses and put their lives in danger. Thousands of families were forced to leave their homes for their safety.
Two sisters, Daria, age 5, and Dasha, age 7, arrived with their parents at a refugee center from Harkiv, the first city to be invaded by the Russian army. They were each given a stuffed animal as a way to welcome them. A volunteer told them, “These toys are for you. Take them with you when you return home.” Dasha responded, “We don’t have a home anymore, they bombed our house.” The volunteer replied, “Oh, well you can take them with you to your new home.” Smiling confidently, Dasha said, “No, when it is safe to go back home, we will rebuild our house.”
It was this story that inspired Michael Pratt and his wife Michelle to start New Horizons, an organization focused on rebuilding, restoring, and renewing lives in Ukraine.
“We serve people in two ways,” says Pratt. “Rebuilding roofs and windows provide warmth and protection from snow and rain. Building relationships with survivors to rebuild, renew and restore war’s internal, emotional, and spiritual damage is [also] essential. Repairing the outside things of life without renewing and restoring the soul of people leaves the work half completed.”
Nadia, who lives in a small village outside Kyiv, was living in her damaged home with only a thin plastic layer to protect her and her family from the elements. The Russian army had shelled her house while she was standing on the porch. With the aid of her son, she was able to escape from the rubble, but the roof and windows of her home were destroyed. Thanks to the generosity of New Horizons and their team, she now has a new roof and windows.
Most large NGO’s and government programs focus on the larger cities that are targeted by the war, but New Horizons is dedicated to helping the smaller villages and towns. Those areas are last on the list for assistance, but the people there need help just as much as the urban centers.
Besides building and restoring homes, schools, and churches, New Horizons wants to expand the organization by offering even more emotional help and trauma care to refugees and soldiers who have PTSD. “Desperation brings out the generosity of people,” says Pratt. [Now] the desperation is gone and funding has become difficult. The learning curve is steep in what we are doing. Lives hang in the balance.”
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