Bought in 2015 by our dear friend, Daniel, his shiny black Mitsubishi Pajero was the perfect car for him to carry his motorcycle to various competitions. The entire back seat and 2 lift seats could be removed, providing plenty of space to place his motorcycle inside. I remember one time, Daniel picked me up to give me a ride some place, and I was momentarily surprised to see an entire motorcycle in the back seat. I thought – wow, I could fit a lot of children and stuff in this car! Four years later, I bought it from Daniel and suddenly I had my own handy, dandy 4 x 4, which was perfect for me to drive on extreme pothole filled roads to the orphanage. I decided to name my new car, “Taras” after Ukraine’s poet laureate and political figure, Taras Shevchenko.
Taras was indeed a great vehicle to add to our small Hope Now fleet, and he made trip after trip to Shpola orphanage and Kompas Park. I cannot imagine how many boxes of bananas, oranges and cookies were transported into the hands of precious children in the safety of Taras. So many times, Taras managed to avoid getting us stuck in the mud. And he was a dream to drive in the thick and usually wet snow too! I never had to worry about running out of fuel, either, as Taras had an extra-large gas tank. Not only that, but Daniel had also equipped Taras with a propane system, so I was always very popular at the local gas stations. Those attendants got to “fill er up” twice every time Taras showed up.
Taras also proved to be a work horse during COVID when our team was constantly delivering much needed food bags to all the children “stuck at home.” A couple of years ago, he was beautifully adorned and honored to be used in a wedding! And even more recently, Zoe was able to use Taras for the semester while she was teaching at Sophia School. And for nearly the past year, Taras found a new purpose as being the family car for one of our team members, Maxim, who has a wife and 3 little boys.
And even now, as his odometer reads 200,000 + miles, Taras has a new lease on life! He has recently joined the Ukrainian army and is serving on the frontlines! How did this come about? Daniel mentioned to me that his military friend, Misha from Dumantsi Church needed help with his van. In the summer, Daniel had used his own savings to buy a van for Misha (whom he met doing humanitarian missions, evacuating people from Kharkiv) and Misha’s van really needed help now, since his army unit came under heavy fire. Many of the vehicles that the Ukrainian army are using, are just ordinary cars and vans – are regularly shot at even with no military markings on them.
Misha’s blue van needed some serious help, but it was still drivable…barely. It was covered in shrapnel holes from flying mortar. However, the other 4 x 4’s in his unit were completely destroyed and in desperate need of replacement. Bullet holes, shelling and missile blasts had rendered Misha’s unit completely without any transport. So, he managed to contact Daniel to ask for help.
We decided that in the interest of time, that it would be faster for me to send Taras to the frontlines, than it would be to source, buy and deliver a vehicle from Poland or Romania. So, Daniel gathered his younger brother, Seroja (both are very talented mechanics!) to form a plan to make a trip to meet up with Misha’s unit to hand over Taras and to take back the wounded blue van.
Daniel wrote to me, “Hey! Hope you are well. We have now made some repairs and serviced Taras and took him to the East. The soldiers were extremely thankful! Because right now they need it more than ever. In fact, a day before Taras was ready, Misha called me in the middle of the night pleading to bring the car right now because in the morning they were moving into a different position from where they were stationed. I said I would if I could, but unfortunately the car was still in the repair shop. So, the very next day as soon as it was ready around 6pm Seroja and I hit the road. Around midnight we were in Dnipro. But Misha was not responding to any of our messages and his WhatsApp said he hadn’t been online since 5am that morning. So, we decided to find a place to stay overnight waiting for a message from him. We didn’t want to be stranded on the front line in the middle of the night. I got really worried because at 5am and then at 8am I still didn’t hear anything from him, and his phone showed he was offline. I really feared the worst. But I decided to start driving further anyway. Thankfully at 10am he managed to get a signal and to send me a message. Turns out he was still in position. He couldn’t meet us, so he arranged for other soldiers from his brigade to come and pick up Taras. They immediately drove it to the front line where it is helping them now. Thank you so much. I’m sure Taras is saving lives right now!”
“A few days later, Misha told me that he is still in the trenches near Vuhledar. But Taras is already working hard bringing munitions and supplies to them. They have one more request. Soldiers said they needed some offroad wheels and tires, since they mostly drive in the mud and can’t afford to get stuck. A set is about $800, and could Hope Now help with that?” You don’t have to donate your car and send it to Ukraine, but if you would like to help, please click the blue Donate link below. Donations that we receive now through Monday, Feb. 13 will go towards this project. Blessings on Taras and blessings to you too!
|Donate to help the Ukrainian Army|