Original Published on Nov 12, 2022 at 12:28
By , Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Winter is coming to the Ukraine. Many Canadians, who were paying attention to the Russian-Ukrainian War in the summer, are no longer paying attention. This is a fear of Johnathan Verroen, a Wyoming native, who has been on the front lines of the conflict delivering humanitarian aid since the conflict began earlier this year.
The Russian military have been bombing much of the Ukrainian infrastructure. Many citizens are without electricity and hot water. Verroen believes more refugees will flee the conditions in the Ukraine as the winter settles in and people try to survive. “The Ukrainian people are so strong,” said Verroen.
Russia launched dozens of missiles on Oct. 31 targeting critical facilities. Eighty percent of Kiev was without water at one point. It was brought back on line, but the city’s leadership has told residents there will be periodic blackouts, as the city deals with its electricity supply.
Verroen is in the middle of this. Everyday he is reminded how dangerous his work is in providing humanitarian aid in the Ukraine. The day he spoke with The Independent, he was still shaken after a bomb landed close to the vehicle he was in. The vibrations from the blast shifted the car on the road.
“I have come here under constant explosions all around us to deliver food and aid to people who are left in the city,” said Verroen. “I am scared every time I go in there.” Rockets are launched into the city by Russian forces and at times shake the building he is staying.
Verroen has been in the war zone off and on for months after feeling called to help after the invasion. His focus in the beginning was to get Ukrainians out of the country and into Canada by matching them with Canadian hosts
Verroen was in Poland in April and May helping Ukrainian refugees who fled across the border into Poland. He returned to Poland on July 21 and travelled to the Ukraine on Aug. 1. He spent the majority of his time in Lviv, but has also been to Kiev and Odessa.
But the work Verroen does has changed. He is now on the near the front lines in Bakhmut, where forces having been battling for weeks, but the city still remains in Ukrainian hands. There, he’s trying to meet the immediate needs of the people he meets, providing humanitarian aid within the country. He has raised $15,000 so far and has a Facebook page, From Canada to Ukraine
“I have felt a deep desire since this war started to help people, and even amid bombings and fear of life, I will continue,” he says. “This war is far from over and sadly as winter approaches more and more people are needing help, for food, shelters and heat. Many will need to be evacuated as winter settles in and there is no power.”