Major Mike McKee, Indiana divisional emergency disaster services (EDS) director, was deployed this spring to serve for six weeks in the Salvation Army’s large-scale response to the Ukraine-Russia crisis.
With more than three decades of experience responding to natural disasters and humanitarian crises around the globe, he joined other seasoned professionals and the local Salvation Army team in Romania to address the needs of Ukrainian refugees who poured into the country. The team handed out vouchers to families (one per child). The families served were predominately women and children, according to the major. The vouchers were redeemable at nearly all stores in Romania and were meant to provide for children’s needs that weren’t being met by the ongoing distributions of food and clothing. Pregnant women also received vouchers. During his deployment in Romania, the team distributed well over 10,000 vouchers, each by hand, to Ukrainian families fleeing their war-torn country.
Additionally, the team provided vital information about the risks of human trafficking to keep this vulnerable population from falling prey to trafficking rings that plague the continent. The Salvation Army has been actively fighting against human trafficking in Europe for decades.
In reflecting on his service, Major Mike said, “While the vouchers and the anti-human trafficking information were very well received, especially appreciated was our ‘ministry of presence,’ which provided the assurance that the refugees were being recognized as individuals and that they were cared for and being brought before the throne of God in prayer.”
Centralite Captain Matthew Beatty, who is currently stationed at International Headquarters as international emergency services program officer, also was deployed to Poland this spring and continues to assist in relief efforts.