Lowcountry nonprofit continues providing water to war torn Ukraine

One year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, aid workers in the country say the war rages on.
Published: Feb. 24, 2023 at 3:41 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 24, 2023 at 6:59 PM EST
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - One year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, aid workers in the country say the war rages on.

Water Mission, a nonprofit based in North Charleston, continues its work to connect people in need to clean water.

Craig Williams leads a team of 25 people in Ukraine. He has been in the country since August, but their work with Ukrainians in need started right after Russian troops crossed the border.

“We started tracking refugees crossing the border 28th of February,” Williams explains. “We had another team arrive in Poland and started tracking people across the border from Poland, to seeing where the needs were could the government’s absorbed as many refugees were there any gaps that needed to be filled.”

Williams says it has been a long year and suffering persists for the people living in battered parts of the country. He describes empty shells of buildings and people gathering in the streets to get first aid and supplies.

“It isn’t better now than it was six months ago and we’re a year into this,” Williams says. “It is getting worse because the lives and difficulties of people is more intense.”

Williams says their relief efforts are often needed after natural disasters, but unlike an earthquake or a hurricane, this war is an ongoing event. He says it is hard to know when the people’s struggles will end, and the needs are constantly being reassessed.

“It’s unfolding all the time,” Williams says. “So you have days which are two steps forward, one step back. The big needs we are seeing is where utility water lines have been bombed. And cities end up without water. Different district lands get bombed and taken out and the ability to get that mass water to people, that ability to flush a toilet, fill a pot with water, get water for your cup of coffee that is gone in many places.”

Bombings often knock out utility lines, sometimes leaving whole cities without water. Water Mission says they have helped supply thousands of people with access to clean water.

The nonprofit is working in six of the blocks or provinces in from the east of the country down to the south. They anticipate having a total of 50 water treatment systems up and running in the next week. They also have six mobile units that can go to hard hit places quickly.

Williams says he does see seeds of hope though in the Ukrainian people he’s talked to day after day. He says their conversations and individual stories touch close to the heart.

“From an old man in a village that didn’t know how he’s going to get through the winter, but was relieved that now he had water,” Williams says. “And anticipating a cold winter his contingency plan was to start dismantling his property fence for heating. You meet parents who have carried their children to safety and said this is not a space our my children to grow up and so they go and join the forces on the front line to make sure their children have a better place.”

He says it is a privilege to be around such resilient and resourceful people as they continue to face daily hardships.

Click here to learn more about Water Mission’s other teams and work around the world: