TAHLEQUAH, Oklahoma – A Northeastern Oklahoma couple are heading to Romania to help take care of refugees who are fleeing Ukraine.
More than a million Ukrainians have left their country, seeking refuge in whatever country will accept them. Countries taking in the refugees include Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and Romania.
“My wife’s family has been in Romania for several decades as missionaries. She grew up and spent some years there as a child, but came back stateside in her teens,” said Shannon Grimes, owner of Grimes Chiropractic & Wellness and chair of the Cherokee County Libertarian Party.
His in-laws operate a church south of Bucharest through Max Dahm Ministries, and he has been based in Romania since after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
“He’s there and seeing people flee violence. His church is working to help refugees. They are helping to collect resources over there,” said Grimes. “What these people are going through is a horrible situation.”
At first, Ukrainian refugees trickled through. In recent weeks, they’ve been coming in greater numbers. Currently, 60 people are staying on the ministry's campus, but that number is increasing every day.
“Some people will stay, and others will come through. They are trying to get as many people situated as possible,” he said.
The church’s goal is to be able to take care of 200 people on a daily basis, which Grimes expects will happen soon. He was set to leave for Romania this week; his wife is already there. One of his first goals is to drive a van from Paris to Bucharest to help shuttle refugees around town.
“As people are coming through, we have to buy beds, heaters, food, and the means to prepare the food,” said Grimes.
Currently, the church has kitchens on campus, but they require larger capacity pots and pans. They are also seeking donations for hygiene kits, as many refugees the church has met had left while minimally packing.
Grimes said some refugees are using the church as a transit station to move to another location. Others do not have a set plan of action. Some just need a place to stay dry and warm, as many refugees are sleeping at train stations.
“We’ve had families that were separated, and we’ve been able to bring some families back together,” he said.
Other families are still not reunited, and church workers are on the ground, trying to account for people who are missing.
You can help
To donate to Max Dahm Ministries, visit https://www.reachingromania.org/donate/ or the GoFundMe page at https://gofund.me/aaf73a66. According to Grimes, all the money will be directed to the current refugee crisis, and will not be used for any other church program.