Observing Ukraine today from above, from satellite images, the landscape that stands before our eyes is the bleakest you can imagine, entire neighborhoods swept away, razed to the ground, buildings reduced to rubble, railways, roads, impassable bridges, mass graves, a grey landscape in which it is difficult to distinguish where there is still life and where none is remaining; among the ashes, nothing but the memory of what has been. In the evening, we would be shocked by the almost total darkness that envelops the skies above Ukrainian cities.
Imagine now, not to observe this world from the outside, from afar, but to be part of it; to be in your apartment, in one of the few buildings still standing or, in the worst case, in a structure destined to be destroyed, a bunker or in the subway tunnels. We would all struggle to understand what it means to live without food and water, without electricity, in the cold, without essential goods, with the din of bombs piercing the silence, in a perennial state of fear, for days, weeks, months, for a year.
For a year, the brave Ukrainian people have endured this precarious state and lived in fear since the first bomb was dropped. Today digs invisible but deep wounds in those living in this situation, particularly among the exhausted elderly, terrified children and those who have lost friends and family.
War makes everyone vulnerable; hope becomes increasingly fleeting with each passing day, and the psychological damage is incalculable, irreparable. The torture, violence and destruction suffered by Ukrainians have caused dramatic psychological conditions and resulted in post-traumatic stress disorder. In this situation, how not to think of the children experiencing the terrifying din of bombs, sirens and tanks instead of the carefree playground laughs that characterised their days.
My thoughts also go out to all those people, soldiers, doctors, teachers, lawyers, musicians, and athletes, who were forced to take up arms because of the Russian invasion. Those who left their family without knowing if they would ever return; to defend their country and protect their way of life. People like us, today, find themselves as soldiers – something they would not have imagined a year ago – forced to defend their home, identity and freedom!
As Director of MOAS, I can say that I am very proud of all that our mission is doing to help the Ukrainian people. In one year we have treated more than 10,000 patients on the front line and more than 20,000 families and seniors in cut-off communities through care services and MMU (Mobile Medical Unit). More than 10,000 local health workers have been trained with state-of-the-art medical techniques and technologies to improve the overall health and well-being of the population. Thanks to our doctors, nurses and staff, we have provided medical care and support in the most affected regions, such as Kharkiv, Donetsk, Mykolaiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, Vinnytsia and Kyiv Oblasts, not only by treating wounds and diseases but by giving hope and humanity to a population that has been deeply shaken by the ongoing conflict.
In these months, it has not only been their handshakes, their hugs and their grateful eyes that have given us the strength to go forward but also the providence that has presented itself through our donors, who, with great sensitivity, generosity and empathy, have and continue to ensure that our programmes continue.
Today, one year after the beginning of the tragic conflict in Ukraine, only one word seems appropriate to utter: PEACE!
We cannot wait any longer; we cannot postpone any longer; the time has come to work hard so that we may put an end to the invasion of Ukraine and return to life as normal. Slava Ukraini!