21st March 2022

As we continue to watch the scenes coming out of Ukraine, it is easy to feel powerless in the face of the devastation. Each individual story of human suffering rends our hearts; taken en masse the stories threaten to overwhelm us and paralyse our ability to act. Yet even amidst the evidence of the horror that human beings are capable of inflicting on one another, there have been glimmers of hope, and I want to share two local ones that have drawn my attention.

One is the story of four Bristol University students going out to help Ukrainian refugees in Poland, and to document their stories; Iā€™m proud to say that one of the group is from the School of Modern Languages and that he is putting his fluent Russian to good use: Bristol University students gathering Ukraine refugee stories – BBC News. The other is the story of a group of four friends from Weston-super-Mare who have driven a bus containing 3,000 teddy bears to the Ukrainian border in the hope of giving traumatised refugee children some comfort: Man drives coach of teddies to Ukrainian refugees – BBC News. These are all ordinary people, yet they are using their unique combination of skills and contacts, as well as gifts of empathy and imagination, in order to reassure desperate Ukrainians that they have not been abandoned to their fate. Our own contributions ā€“ of prayers, money, donations of goods, emails to MPs ā€“ may feel more modest in comparison, yet to quote Mother Teresa, we can do all these small things with great love. Let us pray for a lasting peace today.

Debbie Pinfold