Russian aggression against Ukraine forced millions of people out of their homes. Many of them hope to find a new home in Europe. Poland which borders Ukraine became the main hub for Ukrainian refugees. Some Russians living in Poland couldn’t bear the guilt of their home country invading the neighbor and decided to redeem themselves by helping the refugees on the Ukrainian-Polish border. That’s how the “Russians for Ukraine” initiative was born.
Despite the world’s media warnings of a soon-to-happen invasion, nobody was prepared for the influx of the refugees. Lines on the Ukrainian-Polish border stretched over many miles. So the volunteers of the initiative brought food and water to those waiting in lines and gave a lift to the refugees who didn’t have a car and waited to cross the border on foot.
After the first few days of complete turmoil at the border the aid to refugees became more systematic. The temporary reception centers were organized. So the focus of the volunteers shifted from just bringing the refugees to Poland to settling the refugees in these centers, helping them to clarify their plans and assisting them to get to the cities where they decided to try to rebuild their lives and to find a new home. Sometimes just assistance with translation was enough: even the refugees who have relatives in Europe and know where to go quite often don’t speak nor Polish, nor English. Sometimes a more compicated assistance was required, like in this story of a woman who managed to take her father out of the bombings. But due to the stress her father’s dementia escalated. Furthermore during the trip he got pneumonia.
“Russians for Ukraine” not only volunteer on the border and in the temporary reception centers. They connect the refugees and the drivers ready to give them a lift. They organize buses to transport the refugees to Warsaw and to other cities. They deliver humanitarian aid to Ukraine. Volunteers of the initiative are constantly working at two border crossings (Medyka, Korchova), at two refugee reception points (“Tesco”, Hala Kijowska) and at the railway station in Przemyśl. As the aid initiative became more and more systematic, “Russians for Ukraine” rented a house to host the volunteers who come from all over the world to help people on the border.
The team of the initiative consists of people of different origins and backgrounds. It was started by George Nurmanov, who moved from Russia to Poland long before the war. He was joined by many people from all over the world. Igor from Moscow volunteers on the border and shares stories. Julia Pleskanovskaya lives in Kent, England since 2016. When the war started her Russian origin made her feel she should come to the Ukrainian-Polish border to help the refugees. Aleks Stepanenko shares his experience of volunteering. Josef from France describes his first day of helping the refugees in the temporary reception center. Anja from Ukraine created a telegram bot for the initiative. Margaret Bortko from Montana, US spent a week at the border and brought humanitarian aid to Ukraine in the car of Jacek Charmast from Warsaw.
If you read Russian, you can monitor the news from the volunteers in Telegram. People from all over the world help the refugees at the Ukrainian-Polish border. Complete the Volunteer Application Form and come join them or at least help resolve this humanitarian crisis by donating crypto to the initiative.