A Willesden-based faith leader BK Maureen Goodman of Brahma Kumaris was part of a group of British religious delegates to visit Ukraine.
Sister Maureen Goodman of the Brahma Kumaris joined the interfaith collective which also included former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.
She said: “We joined together to show solidarity with those people who are in very difficult situations. Everybody was on the same page that we were going just to be with the people and to share love and compassion.”
The group visited an area where no conflict was directly taking place – a space just over from the Romanian border. However, the families and children they met had all been affected by the conflict.
Although Chernivtsi is a quiet area in the West of Ukraine, all are affected and there is tension in the atmosphere and on people’s faces. They are people of faith, of vision, with great spirit and resilience.
Acknowledging that every life is precious, on all sides, their purpose was to be with the people of Ukraine and all who have been impacted by the current conflict.
They had visits to various sites. The ‘City of Goodness’ was a great inspiration. Built to house 80 mothers and children fleeing domestic violence, it now houses 120 mothers and children displaced by the war and children who have been orphaned. More are coming daily from all over Ukraine. They have rescued nearly 800 children. Having spent time with Mother Teresa in Calcutta, the founder Marta Levchenko has created a palpable atmosphere of love and care. Some of the children were a few weeks old, some were differently abled, all ready to engage with us with affection.
They also visited a school where some refugees are being housed, including children and the elderly. They could witness the bewilderment in their eyes after having to flee their homes, taking very little with them.
The Chabad (Jewish) Community hosted them for lunch with generous hospitality. This was in the presence of the Mayor of Chernivtsi who warmly welcomed the religious leaders to the city.
“The children were getting a lot of love and care but to see young babies orphaned by the war was very moving”, she said.
“The children were very affectionate and it was a delight to be there with them despite everything that was happening in the background.”
Brahma Kumaris is a spiritual movement that focuses on identity as souls, as opposed to bodies and is notable for its prominent role of women.