“War has changed everything.” Imagine, if you will, those words coming from a doctor whose voice, despite a recent bout with laryngitis, is strong as he relates story after story of acts of courage, caring, hope and, yes, desperation.
“It’s amazing to feel the Lord’s hand every minute,” says Yury Bondarenko, MD. Dr. Bondarenko is director and head physician at Angelia Clinic, which is now split between its original location in Kyiv and a site across the river, farther from the military action, in the western Ukraine city of Chernivtsi.
Though the clinic began offering non-medical activities in 2013, Dr. Bondarenko says that, when he started to organize his clinical team six years ago, “it was my dream to be as one family.” Of the original 60 team members, 40 – including the 12 who are still working in Kyiv – continue to work and live together, separated from their families, but joined by dogs, cats and, in Dr. Bondarenko’s case, two guinea pigs.
Though their work has become infinitely more complex, Angelia’s doctors, nurses, dentists, therapists, and psychologists remain focused on continuing to provide the wholistic care that is the hallmark of Seventh-day Adventist health care. That, combined with the “very high spirit of freedom” ingrained in the Ukrainian people, provides the fuel to keep them going until the time comes when “all our team will have enough time to be restored.”
To assist in the efforts of Angelia Clinic, as well as those being undertaken by the Ukrainian Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Adventist Development & Relief Agency (ADRA), donations, as of Monday, March 28, had exceeded $225,000. AdventHealth team members contributed more than $160,000 through payroll donations and more than $64,000 has been donated via the Global Missions website.
“The donation from AdventHealth is significant,” Dr. Bondarenko says. “It was impossible to start the process of good mobile clinics without this donation. Now we are able to finish purchasing vans and outfitting them” to provide necessary care, including dental and ob-gyn services. Three vans will serve as mobile clinics to “help people where they are.”
Dr. Bondarenko, who is a psychiatrist and addictions medicine doctor, estimates that 70 percent of patients need mental health support and are “very vulnerable right now because of closed pharmacies and shortages” of medicine. But included in the stories he shares is how “God has sent medications just in time for patients” from places such as Romania and other faraway regions of Ukraine. “It was like a heavenly pharmacy,” he says.
What else would Dr. Bondarenko ask for? “My answer is very simple,” he says. “Please don’t stop praying for us. All of His grace we feel. We are really feeling ourselves under His wings. … I understand that hundreds of thousands are praying. So just continue to pray.”