Contemporary Issues Last Updated: Feb 8th, 2011 - 05:50:02

Russian Orthodox Church - helping the fire victims day and night
By Anna Danilova
Aug 9, 2010, 10:00
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“We send a car to each location reported to be in need of help, collect information and then organize help” – explains a coordinator in the Russian Orthodox Church Department for Charity. For the last week, it has been the most actively functioning place – volunteers are collecting clothes, raising money, gathering information, and sending fire fighting equipment to the burning regions.

The hottest weather ever and absence of previous fire preventing work has resulted in a real collapse in Russia. State forest districts have been abolished for several years already, emergency services lack fire engines, fire helicopters are hard to get and there is lack of even the simplest equipment including spades . At the same time websites of state purchases tell us that emergency services bought a number of luxury cars, each of them worth at least one fire engine.

It is the Church and volunteers who are most actively fighting fire and helping people today.

On July 30, when mass media still kept informing us that everything was under control, a 20-year old Moscow University graduate Liza Oleskina posted in her blog the information that a village got burnt and people there needed clothes, food, and medicine. The response was quick. The following day many Muscovites came to Liza’s house bringing all the listed stuff, many of the volunteers, mostly teenagers and  young people, stayed for the whole day in the heat to sort and pack the goods.

The next day came the address of the Patriarch. He has basically called for national mobilization in the face of disaster, ordering all the parishes to raise money and collect all the necessary things for those who suffered.

“I give my blessing on organizing special fund-raising campaigns on the next three Sundays in all the churches of the Russian Orthodox Church. In each diocese where there are homeless victims of fires or threats of fire a cleric or lay person or better a group of persons should be appointed as responsible for the fund-raising and aid organization to the victims. In cooperation with the Emergency Situations Ministry, we should see to it that designated aid reaches every victim. In Moscow the fund-raising and collection of things is organized by the Synodal Department for Church Charity and Social Service. It has published a special account number to which those who wish to help can send money. Every one of us, in helping the victims of the fire rage, serves our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. A testimony to this is the Gospel's word: 'Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me' (Mt. 25:40). But helping the homeless victims of fires, each one also serves oneself because any one of us may find oneself in a similar situation when everything perishes and one's health is undermined and there is no one else to help but God, neighbors and the Church. That is why we cannot help participating most actively in giving aid to those who have been affected by fire”, – said the Patriarch

He was also the first person in Russia who addressed the corruption problem. He has specially stressed that the money given by the state to the fire vicrims is “holy money” and stealing it is a great sin.

That Patriarch would call money 'holy' could seem rather strange. But this statement was highly important – the following day the authorities have suggested to use web cameras so that people could control expenditure of money themselves. The State is unable to secure the money provided for the burnt down from being fiddled away.

Russian Orthodox Church has immediately started mass collection of the necessary – during the first 3 days all the necessary clothes has been collected and around $150,000 in donations was amassed only in Moscow. It was at that time that the central Russian bank, Sberbank, has refused to open a centralized account for the burnt-down in a typical show of indifference to people's sufferings and needs.

At the moment the most essential are fire extinction things – spades, clothes – and food for the firefighters.

There are lots of volunteers working hard in spite of the grave ecological situation in the affected areas. There are lots of heroic people who are fighting fires, and tragically, some of them died.

There are many people making lots of money on selling air conditioners, respirators and trips??? at triple than usual prices or even more. Strangely, no one calls it foray here.

The Russians are praying for the rain and the Church Department for Charity continues its much needed work.

A photoreport from the ROC Depatment for Charity by Sergei Muhamedov

No more clothes please!

All the thing are sorted into plastic bags

Source: The Fund for Assistance to ROCOR

FFA raises funds for forest fire victims in Russia

The Fund for Assistance to ROCOR opened a campaign to help the victims of forest fires in Russia.

“St. Apostle Paul tells us: ‘Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ’. Our Fund decided that it is important to lend our support to the Russian people at this difficult time“, said Archpriest Victor Potapov, Executive Director of the Fund. 

On Sunday, His Holiness Patriarch Kyrill of Moscow and all Russia appealed to all Orthodox people to help the victims of forest fires in Russia, and pray for rain.

“We call upon the flock of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, whatever nationality they may be, to help us collect funds and respond to His Holiness’s worthy appeal“, said Fr. Victor.
Protracted abnormal heat, dry weather and high winds have lead to wide-spread forest fires all over Russia.  According to the Russian Emergency Ministry, forest fires have covered more than 121,000 hectares all over the country.

 “People have died, hundreds have lost homes, thousands remain without a source of income”, said Patriarch Kyrill. “Many of the victims are older people, who have lived off their land their whole life.  There are also many children, because whole villages have been destroyed”.

The Patriarch has issued an ukase for holding a special plate collections all over Russia for the next three Sundays to benefit the victims.

To make a donation now, click here .

Please make out checks to the Fund for Assistance to ROCOR, memo “Victims of wild fires” and send to

Fund for Assistance to ROCOR
75 E 93 St
New York, NY 10128 

God bless you!


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