So grateful our translator managed to find us a last minute hotel room after our unload. We’ve stopped for the night at Zamosc after unloading most of the gear (it was packed in UK by our Ukrainian friends at All Saints Hanworth and it was simply amazing how much stuff came out and how good quality it all was).
What we unloaded is now, as I type, being taken over the border by former Ukrainian paratroopers to people just inside Ukraine. Our translator Nikolaevna had to queue for 18 hours to leave, others have been stuck for days inside the country they’re trying to flee. It’s amazing to have been able to bring goods to a place where the immediately distributed, thanks again to our friends in Hanworth.
What we’ve kept in the van we’re going to give out directly at the border this morning. Almost all of those travelling are women and children. So we’ve got baby supplies that look infinite to me but will last just two or three days at the border.
We’ve also had so many generous donations from the UK that we can go to the local Polish supermarket and refill the van with goods bought here – which will hopefully benefit the local economy as well. Poland is a bit like Lebanon has been with Syria. They are receiving over 1 million people into the country at the moment. When I left London I think the UK had helped 300 of those. So the Polish economy needs all the help it can get too.
Then we head back to the border and give out as much as possible – all things that have immediate use. Dan is recording TV interviews for the BBC, So you may see what we’re doing on screen around this morning if you’re in the UK. If the picture is wobbly it’s because I’m the cameraman and we’re just using our phones.
We’ve also made contact with charity workers running a list of those who want transportation across Europe. The reason we brought a minibus not a van was so we could help here too. So we will load up the minibus with people we can give a lift too, and then start the long drive back to London about midday today. Of course, we won’t be allowed to take anyone to London due to UK border restrictions, but we can at least take them to railway stations in Poland, Germany, Belgium or France – where they can stay, or travel around the EU for free on rail links.
Thanks again to Laura Ellener and Chiswick school, and the amazing Polish Peugeot garage in Krakow who repaired the van for free yesterday because they saw where we were headed – and maybe because they saw my dog-collar too!
The van: runs beautifully but apparently there was a small cable to do with the superfluous ‘Ad Blue’ system that had been chewed up by an animal so it failed on our journey. This meant we did 600 miles yesterday en route to the garage without being able to turn off the engine because the car has a built-in thing that means it won’t restart if the ad blue system is failing once you turn the engine off! Didn’t want to put that out on social media at the time so as not to cause concern but it was a huge prayer answer to get the van totally repaired and to be able to switch off the engine has meant we have been able to stop for a much needed sleep in a hotel, before the 28hr journey home.