10:47 am April 5, 2022
11:17 a.m. April 5, 2022
“When you get home, you’ll have to find time to process everything.”
On my recent trip to Poland to help and report on the humanitarian work there to help Ukrainians fleeing Putin’s war, this is the phrase I heard more than any other.
As I hope my articles have highlighted, the journey has been a dizzying experience of long days, multiple decisions, and multiple ups and downs.
From the weak seeing the Interior Ministry’s lack of attempts to ease the process for Ukrainians coming to this country, to the height of finding a safety seat for a month-old baby, Hope.
There wasn’t really much time to think about what was going on, other than a late night drink in the bar and maybe a walk along the river.
In the two full days since my return, I certainly still haven’t had time to process everything, given the need to catch up with my family and get back to work.
One thing I hadn’t considered was that the relief work didn’t have to stop even if I flew out of Poland on Saturday.
Part of Sunday was spent liaising with the team still at the Krakow hotel on various issues, as well as developing a plan to help those who want to come to this country for refuge.
He was overwhelmed by the heartbreaking images coming from Bucha, which showed that Russia’s attacks were still very real.
Two other men from Norfolk, Chris Ketley and Tristan Cork, from Hethersett, have now left to help, so we met for a cup of tea on Sunday evening so they could be briefed on what it would be like.
The hope is that some of these refugees staying at the Ibis hotel in Poland might reunite in Norfolk, where they know us and each other. Monday evening was therefore dedicated to setting up meet and greets on the WhatsApp video.
It seems logical that, if we have people from Norfolk bringing refugees to safety in Poland, there should be a link with our own Norfolk County Council to try to bring them here.
That way, they would already have a network in place to support them, made up of fellow Ukrainians they got to know and English people, and their families, whom they met at the hotel. These discussions must take place imminently.
I also kept in touch with the families I met there and found out where they ended up.
Baby Hope, mum and brother are now safe with family in Ireland, and hope to have a picture soon.
Ditto for the two families of five, including six-year-old Makar, who arrived the same day.
Little Jan, three, and his mother are staying at the hotel in Krakow, with Vita, her son Mykyta and her dog Asya, Larisa and her son Bohdan and a dear elderly lady who has become affectionately known as ‘Grand not gran’ due to confusion about his relationship with others.
Hopefully their next trip will start soon, but you might not be surprised to learn that the government isn’t particularly easy on the process of filling out the forms.
So, for now, I certainly haven’t started “processing” the last crazy days. Part of me wants to be back there, part of me is happy that I did my part and I hope I find ways to keep doing it.
Emotionally, it can sometimes be surprisingly difficult. We joked on the trip that I could never go to war, I would cry too much to shoot straight!
I spent a week on the brink of war and the emotional impact was great. It hits hard in the morning and I feel so sad for the Ukrainian people.
I have a new found respect for anyone standing up to the chaos of real combat to defend their country.
This morning I counted the number of people we hope to have helped during this week in Poland. The total was 23, including at least eight children, plus a cat and a dog.
It looks like a small drop in the ocean – but it’s at least something, I guess?