Christian charity worker flees with Ukrainian children


Eastern Europe

Anne Vader, RD

Photo Stefanie de Wildt

On Thursday afternoon, Stefanie de Wildt (30) drives out of their Ukrainian village in a car full of children and her belongings. She is fleeing to Western Ukraine. Before them lies a dangerous journey of about 1000 kilometres. “We have to drive through areas where the bombs have already fallen.”

Stopping is not an option, says De Wildt on the phone from the car. The field worker of the Kimon Foundation, a Christian missionary organisation focussing on distressed children worldwide, has just left her family home in Pomichnaya. She may never see the place again where she and a Ukrainian family took in foster children.

The family home residents fled with thirteen people—De Wildt in a passenger car, the Ukrainian couple in a van. A journey of at least twenty hours lies ahead. All the while, De Wildt will have to drive herself. There is no time for a break to stretch your legs. Maybe only for a pee stop.

Children’s voices can be heard in the background. “They don’t understand it when you say it’s war,” says De Wildt. “The children like going west because that’s where their grandparents live.” However, images of bombings constantly haunt her. On social media, she saw dead bodies lying on the side of the road. “I was shocked by that.”

As a result, she hardly thinks about what she had to leave behind, such as photos. “We could only take a few boxes.”


Normally, the journey takes about thirteen hours. De Wildt, however, has heard that traffic from Kyiv to the west is completely stuck. Therefore, she counts on one or two days of travel. They cannot get around bombed areas. “We drive in prayer and know that the Lord protects and preserves us.”

Initially, the plan was to leave on Friday or Saturday. But the war came sooner than expected. Last night, De Wildt was woken up by a phone call from the couple. “The war has begun”, she heard. “The first thing that popped into my head was: I knew it. And: Lord, help us. Please allow us to get to a safe place.”

On Thursday morning, she drove first to the hospital with one of the children – a journey of two hours, back and forth. Before departure, the child still had to get its weekly injection against hepatitis C.


Two of the couple’s own children are currently staying with grandparents in the west. “If we do not go there now, there’s a good chance we will not be able to get to them later.” De Wildt already takes such a scenario seriously. “If there is a blockade and all roads to the west are closed, we have to go back.

So maybe they will turn around tonight or tomorrow. She may never see the family home in Pomichnaya again.

Despite the uncertainty and threats, the fieldworker experiences a deep peace. “I am calm and do not feel any fear. Even though it is possible that we will experience bombing in dangerous areas tonight, this morning, my mother called. “I could lose you; maybe it’s the last time I call you”, she said.” Among all the unrest, De Wildt is calm. “Usually, you do not have peace of mind when you’re in a war situation, and you go to a place where bombs can fall”, says De Wildt. “Yet, the Lord gives rest in my heart; I’m not afraid to die. We have prayed for this decision, so it is the right way to go.”

This article was translated by CNE.news and previously published in Dutch daily Reformatorisch Dagblad on February 24th, 2022.



Subscribe for an update, and receive a documentary and e-book for free.

Choose your subscriptions*

You may subscribe to multiple lists.