Several weeks ago, while we were delivering wood stoves to a front line village, there were several Ukrainian mortar teams firing away at the Russian military positions four miles away. There were also occasional rockets being shot into the village, but nothing that was too close.
As we were wrapping up the distribution, rockets started screaming in and exploding above us and beside us. Most of them were rockets that exploded in the air and rained down thermite. Thermite looks like fireworks, but it actually lands at 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit. It is designed to burn buildings and cause extreme pain and suffering to anyone it lands on. Several dozen of these thermite rockets came in and exploded. There were alse some other rockets that hit the ground and exploded. The main barrage was between 100 and 300 meters away.
Our team and most of the locals with us went into a bomb shelter until it was over. When things had calmed down, we came out and found thermite burning on two sides of us. The closest stuff was fifty yards away.
As we were preparing to leave, another rocket came in and exploded into the neighbor’s house. We left as soon as we could. On our way out, another rocket barrage exploded in the ground, and several houses were hit and started burning. We sped through the smoke and thermite fires and headed back to the safety, warmth, and joy of the base, which was hours away.
We had a warm house, a hot meal, and a hot shower waiting for us. The people living in that village had a cold, damp, bomb shelter to live in. The people appear numb and barely flinch when a rocket lands beside them. One lady told us she has already written herself off as dead. She has accepted that reality. Many of them live a miserable existence.
Many of them now have a wood stove and heat for their underground bomb shelters. These stoves make their existence much easier to bear. The people received them with joy and gratefulness. Delivering the stoves came with some risk for us, but it was a blessing to work with these people.