Another woman was off to visit her daughter, a student living on the Côte d’Azur in France — she is considering whether she should join her permanently — and one young woman was leaving for a holiday in Spain.

These were people with economic means who preferred to leave for a while. They were not permanent migrants or refugees.

At the same time, some people choose to stay. Hence the initiative of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, which hopes to give everyone a chance to cook a warm meal and thus find one less reason not to leave. After all, war is also won this way, with a constant presence in a place from which one is invited to leave. But it’s not just that: The population has organized itself to immediately fix what is destroyed, so as not to give the idea of bowing to any enemy provocation.

For Shevchuk, “peace means above all the absence of war, which for us means winning, getting the enemy to go away. Peace in our imagination means stopping these military actions. Stop killing us. That will be the first step towards authentic peace.”

“But we know that peace is something deeper than the absence of war,” Shevchuk added. “It is not just about winning in war, but winning the very spirit of war, the war in its causes, the source of authentic and lasting peace.”

In the meantime, for many people, an important means of support is provided by Church initiatives. The head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church said that people looking for accommodation arrive in Kharkiv from the “martyr city” of Izium and Kupiansk. They receive a payment equivalent to $50-$80 from the government — not enough to pay for even the most urgent things. And Kherson, which has just been liberated, is still suffering, he said, and in need of aid.

There are two ways in which the Church provides aid — through Caritas and through the parishes, where family homes and various initiatives are provided. There is also a foundation of the patriarch, managed by the major archbishopric, which seeks to provide nutrition: The food parcels feed a family for a week and so are not dependent on spontaneous arrival of humanitarian aid, Shevchuk explained. “We try to procure this food in a stable way. Let’s just say it’s a bit of a ‘patriarch’s ambulance.’”