NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — When Chris Hardy and Rachel Trammell at Nashville's Justice and Mercy International saw the devastation in Ukraine, they knew no matter the distance, they had to get to Moldova — a nation the size of Maryland, now bulging with thousands of refugees from the war-torn country.
"Our staff on the ground, I have to hand it to them, the day the invasion started, they said how can we help?" said Rachel Trammell with Justice and Mercy International.
While the Moldovan government operates several refugee camps, with such an influx from Ukraine, many camps are makeshift.
"That's sometimes a basement of a church or an old hospital that's not functioning anymore," Trammell said.
Justice and Mercy International was able to distribute everything from food and mattresses to hygiene bags.
Ukrainian men have been ordered to stay in the country and fight, meaning most of the refugees in Moldova are women and children.
"I think the most emotional thing for me was the mothers who had to make the choice," Trammell said.
That choice was to either stay in Ukraine with their husbands or leave with their children toward what one refugee told Trammel was a future that was anything but certain.
"She said she was still shell shocked, she said, with her baby on her hip, 'We don't know if we can go back, and we don't know if we will ever see her father again,'" Trammell said.
It's a decision that many of us may find hard to comprehend, but Trammell said Tennesseans understand more than we realize, comparing the Moldovan's desire to help to Tennesseans opening their homes and wallets after the tornadoes that ripped through the mid-state.
"It's kind of the same idea, this human spirit element," Trammell said.