When I left for the front lines of western Ukraine a week ago, it was anticipated that nearly 500,000 refugees would arrive here in Poland. That number has actually reached a staggering million+ and is growing by the minute; 50% are young children.
Without fail, no one on the border with me has escaped without sheading a few tears. We are all moved with emotion watching exhausted mothers comforting frightened children; minors walking over the border alone, and disabled and sick children being wheeled in grocery carts or any way possible just to get to safety. Silent tears stream down tiny faces as they walk across the short corridor into safety; families separated by war who’ve just said goodbye to their husbands, fathers and brothers.
The response here in Poland by both Polish and Ukrainian communities has been heart-warming. Ordinary people have open wide their doors, their homes, their churches, their commercial buildings without question to the overwhelming tide of families who need help. They have showed up at the border with food and emergency supplies.
Non-profits and organizations are responding by sending loads of supplies into Ukraine. We watch as truck after truck line up to reenter; driven by brave volunteers wearing flak jackets for body armor. Normal people. Heroes on the front lines.
We have partnered with three separate groups here on the ground to provide aid; two non-profits and a network of 280 churches who’ve converted their sanctuaries into places of refuge, housing hundreds of families. Poor churches, who once heated their buildings once a week for services, are now provide heating and food 24/7.
Nonprofits, police and aid workers are exhausted – many working around the clock with little sleep to meet needs of families who are waiting in the cold. It’s snowed almost every day since I arrived. The weather in bitter cold, with wind chills hovering in the low 20s.
Many of you have asked how to help. Thank you. For now, we are not bringing teams – just nowhere left to stay. Hotels and hostels are full of refugee families. We are empowering local communities to respond. You can help with this first wave of relief by donating.
Basic relief, including food, transport and shelter. Each truck carrying loads of supplies costs approximately $40,000. Fuel costs for transporting is about $500 per trip.
Emergency medicine and medical equipment to support hospitals and clinics inside Ukraine; including a small pediatric cancer hospital who is out of medication. $25,000
Our partners in Canada are already packing a shipment of aid and much needed medical supplies.
Poland is well organized on the medical front, and many refugees arriving are in good health. There is no immediate need for a field hospital as we anticipated. However, that could change in the coming days. We are starting to see families arrive from Kiev and other areas where there is heavy fighting. Children are traumatized. You can see it in their faces.
We are currently assessing medical needs in Moldova. I’ll likely travel there in the coming days.
To those of you who have donated to help. Thank you. Every dollar is appreciated. If you would like to help us in this effort, please consider giving.