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Tennesseans running Ukrainian refugee camp in Romania

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Posted at 10:50 AM, Jun 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-24 11:50:49-04

HUMBOLDT, Tenn. (WTVF) — A group of Tennessee missionaries are running a refugee camp for Ukrainians out of Romania.

The country is neighbors with Ukraine and many people are fleeing the war there.

Kontakt Missions is a group that's had mission trips to Eastern Europe, but the founders realized the need for refugees after the war started.

"The idea behind the camp originally was like it would be a transfer camp originally, because we have a lot of ministries in Germany, but the ministries in Germany, they just filled up right away," said Jon Gainer, a pastor out of Humboldt who's with the group.

The camp has water, electricity and food. A lot of the infrastructure was provided by Romanians who did the work for free, Gainer said.

"They have insulation, we put air conditioners and heaters on them so they can work in the winter time. It's a much better solution," he said.

The camp is home to 54 refugees right now. They brought in living pods for the families and have bathrooms and showers on site.

Most of the refugees are young children accompanied by their mothers. Men of a certain age aren't allowed to leave Ukraine.

Gainer said the war weighs heavy on everyone.

"Our pension for evil, it has highlighted that for sure, but it has also highlighted human kindness and that's really beautiful," he said. "The way the Romanian people are treating the Ukrainians."

He said the Tennessee people have also highlighted that kindness. The camp runs on donations, which are about $10,000 a month. However, donations have slowed as the interest in the war has faded.

He's asking for more help. All of the donations go directly to helping the Romania and Ukraine based missions of the group. The non-profit doesn't take a cut, Gainer said.