ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A local missionary group just returned back from Ukraine where they were serving people in the war-torn country. 

This is the second trip the Guardians of Hope have been on to Ukraine, but this time, things were much different.

“The things that we saw and the things that we heard and the stories that they told us, I don’t think anybody really could have been prepared for that, but we definitely were not prepared to hear those things,” said Roman Bosak, the Director of Operations for Ukranian Relief Project for Guardians of Hope.

This trip, Bosak, who is from Hilton, and his team, were able to go into areas like Bucha, where Russian troops had come and gone. However, what they saw left behind was heart-wrenching. 

“The stories that we heard about the amount of women that were raped, the amount of children that were raped, the stories are so graphic that even today, like I’m here at home, but those stories are still in my mind, the bodies in the streets are still in my mind,” Bosak said. 

In Bucha, Guardians of Hope handed out truck-loads of food to civilians who needed it. Most have been living off the food in their cupboards or what their neighbors have left.

“The military escorted us into those areas,” Bosak said. “There were two vans in front of us with soldiers and machine guns, there was one van behind us. They escorted us into these villages, and we started handing out bread, we started handing out food.” 

The group wasn’t expecting to enter Bucha, but they prayed and those prayers were answered. Bosak said so many civilians came to get food.

“There’s this one footage that we have that just strikes a nerve in my heart every single time, because this lady kissed the bread, and then she just started crying. And she’s like, ‘You guys have no idea how long we have been praying for somebody to bring us bread,’” Bosak said. “These people have literally been praying for this for over a month.”

Bosak also recalls civilians digging graves to bury hundreds of loved ones, burned tanks on roadsides, and massive destruction everywhere.  

“I didn’t even see any military bases blown up. It was all civilian, residential areas, beautiful townhomes, beautiful condominiums, houses, and shopping markets, gas stations, bombed and destroyed,” Bosak said. “The atmosphere there was so thick that it was unreal. It’s like you’re in an apocalyptic movie.”

Bosak and the Guardians of Hope team say their main goal now is bringing awareness to what’s happening in Ukraine, one reason they went into Bucha in the first place. 

“A lot of people are saying that ‘this is all fake, it’s all computerized, it’s not true.’ And I’m telling my team, I’m like, ‘Guys, we’re only about four hours from that village. What is it going to take us to get there to find out if this is true or not?’” Bosak said.

“It’s something that I can’t get out of my mind, but it’s something that I want the world to know… that this isn’t a joke, that this isn’t fake, people are literally dying, being killed for no reason, just innocent civilians,” Bosak said. 

Guardians of Hope plans to continue sending teams to Ukraine and Poland to help. They are looking for monetary donations, empty suitcases, and medical supplies in the meantime. 

All of the monetary donations go towards buying food for people in Ukraine, which has gotten more expensive due to inflation. 

“There’s issue is now getting food in Ukraine,” Bosak said. “We’re trying to order different things and they’re telling us they’re out, so If we have to order directly from the factory to do that, we have to have enough funds for that.”

He said the more people they can get behind their efforts, the more hope they can offer to civilians in Ukraine. 

“The worst feeling in the world is when there’s hungry people in line for bread, but you just handed out your last piece of bread. When there’s people in life for medicine, but you just gave out, all four boxes are empty, and you have nothing to offer them,” Bosak said.

If you would support Guardians of Hope, you can donate to the group here.