Locals Mervin and Dasha Strother help provide safe passage for those in Ukraine

Dasha Strother walks through security in order to access the corner of Ukraine. (Courtesy of Mervin Strother)

As part of a local church mission, Mervin and Dasha Strother helped escort Ukrainians to Romanian shelters for safety.

The Strothers went as representatives of their local church, Cornerstone Church in Amite, to help locals cross the borders to Romania and establish connections with churches in the area. 

From March 26 to April 6, the couple helped provide transportation for refugees seeking shelter in the neighboring country. One of the largest shelters they frequented was the Emmaus Shelter in southwest Romania.

Both of the Strothers have very close ties with Russia and Ukraine, as Mervin lived in Russia for 14 years and met his wife there. During his time in Russia, Strother was a missionary for the Christian church.

“I was born in the United States, and in 1992 we moved to Russia to live there for a while. I lived there for 14 years and was involved with the church. That’s how I met my wife. She was a church interpreter in Yaroslavl,” Mervin said.

The Strothers have a close connection to the war in Ukraine due to them living there for so long. The war is personal to them.

“The war is like two parents getting a divorce. What a lot of people don’t understand is that the two countries have very similar cultures. They’re basically brothers. It would be like Louisiana and Mississippi going to war,” Mervin said.

Mervin and Dasha Strother met through the church in Russia where Dasha was working as a translator. (Courtesy of Mervin Strother)

Despite all their ties to the countries at war though, the Strothers said they believe in helping people first and focusing on politics second.

“I want to emphasize that what we’re doing is apolitical. We’d be helping Russian people if this was the other way around. Our mission is to help people. There’s nothing else to it,” Mervin said.

The Strothers are currently living in Independence and have five children, the oldest being 23. 

Regarding if they will ever go back to help, the Strothers plan on heading back “whenever they are needed again.”