Adamova Lake, Latvia, 26th August 2023

Anna Roth, daughter of BBI International Associates Dan and Katie Roth, is studying Press and Editorial Photography at Falmouth University in the UK. She joined her Dad and the Director of BBI Ukrainian Ministry, Slavic Maiboroda, at a picnic hosted by Ukrainian refugees and took some photographs we want to share. Dan wrote the story to go with the images, which were originally published at

Dan writes . . .

One Saturday in late August we were invited to a picnic with Ukrainian refugees by the beautiful Adamova Lake in Eastern Latvia.  It was a relaxing, light-hearted day. They made a delicious meal of chicken, potatoes, fresh vegetables and watermelon. We brought boats and paddle boards so everyone could have fun on the water. We also rented a bouncy castle for the younger ones to enjoy.

Anna chose to publish these photos in black and white to express the underlying reality of the harshness of being refugees even as we enjoyed a fun time of fellowship.

These Ukrainians live near Adamova Lake in a refugee center run by the Red Cross located in a former boarding school that closed in 2019. 82 people in 32 families have lived here in dormitory style accommodation for the past 18 months.  It is hard to imagine what is must be like to suddenly flee your home and leave your entire life behind to live communal style in a foreign country with a group of traumatised strangers.

We were invited to this picnic because six of the teenage boys had come to Eagle’s Wings camp for Ukrainians a few weeks earlier.  They had a fantastic time and on the way home asked Slavic, “What’s next?”  So together, along with their parents, they planned this picnic by the lake.  This was the first of a series of camp follow-up events that Slavic will organise.

Director of Ukrainian Ministry, Slavic Maiboroda

Veronica, one of the teenage girls, told us that she too had hoped to come to camp but it happened to be at the same time she returned to Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, for a two-week visit.  It was heavily attacked and most of the surrounding area was occupied by the Russian forces until the Ukrainians pushed them out about a year ago.  We asked Veronica what it is like there now.  “Remarkably, things have returned to normal.  The shopping centres are working, the cafes are open for business, even the amusement park was running,” she said with a smile.  “But the air raid siren still goes off frequently,” and tears started rolling down her cheeks.  Slavic noted that the trauma of the early days of the war is still raw.

Nadia was keeping a close eye on her 5 year old granddaughter.  I asked about her story.  Her town in the Kharkiv region was occupied by the Russian forces on the first day of the war.  She, her two sons and their families fled through Russia into Latvia.  Her granddaughter has had four operations.  The older son couldn’t adjust to this new life in Latvia so he took his family and went back to the family home.  On May 28, two missiles struck the house and completely destroyed it. Nadia said, “Praise God my son had taken his family to the countryside to visit some relatives and no one was hurt!”  I found it interesting that she emphasised the exact day her home was destroyed.

Many things made this day special.  The boys’ cabin leader at camp came with his family from Riga.  David and Kristina, camp leaders who both have prosthetic legs, came from Cēsis.  When we arrived, the kids and a few mothers joined us for games and boating.  By lunchtime, even the grandparents were in the boats, splashing, laughing and having a great time.  That was the best part, seeing everyone join in and take a break from the madness that is life during war.

Dan Roth

BBI associate Dan Roth is active in the ministry of Eagle’s Wings and Madona Baptist Church. He also oversees the work on the farm at Eagle’s Wings. He is passionate about discipleship and mentoring and Ukrainian relief ministry. Dan loves farming and spending time with his family.

Anna Roth

Growing up in three distinct cultures – rural Latvia, a farming community in the high desert of Central Oregon and the historic city of Bath, UK – has given me a unique worldview and capacity to appreciate the essence of each place and person I encounter.

I know and love people from all walks of life, with vastly differing political convictions, interests, talents and backgrounds. Whether creating a life story book for a Latvian young person who grew up in the care system, photographing a dusty cattle drive in the Oregon desert or collaborating with a model on a fashion shoot at an English beach, I make a connection with each subject based on deep respect for who they are.