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Brian Nolen Ukraine support signs
Google Translate Ukrainian goodbye

About Brian (cont.)

I joined a bunch of Facebook groups, mainly comprised of people who were actively helping out on the ground in Poland, where the majority of refugees were fleeing to.  I applied to work for outfits like World Central Kitchen, envisioning helping out with coordinating food preparation or logistics.  To my surprise, they were actually swamped with volunteers.  I soon found out that the big need at that time was for transportation of refugees.

Fast forward to March 23, and I was on my way to Berlin, Germany to pick up one of the few remaining available passenger vans in that part of Europe (the only other option was a van in Warsaw at $10,000 for 2 weeks!).  The next stop was Przemysl, Poland, at the border with Ukraine, to begin what has turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

Emotionally, by far the most difficult part of these trips was saying goodbye to refugees that we’ve transported, even if it was only a 10 minute ride from a train station to a refugee center.  The refugees are overwhelmingly women and children, as Ukrainian men 18-60 must stay local in case they’re called up for military service.  Via Google Translate, we would have as much of a conversation with the refugees as time allowed – ask them where they’re from, if they have any special needs, etc.  When we handed them off to the party responsible for the next part of their journey, I would display a message saved on my phone in Ukrainian that said “I wish you good luck on the rest of your journey, and know that America is with you!”. 

Invariably, when they initially hear us speaking English, they automatically assume we’re English or Canadian. They know the U.S is supplying them with weapons and supplies, but most don’t think the average American cares about what’s going on in Ukraine. When they find out that we’re Americans, their faces beam with joy and surprise. 

Talk about making you proud to be an American!

And now, with 5 trips behind us, the calling to help Ukraine is stronger than ever.  We've met so many incredibly brave, patriotic Ukrainians in our travels, that we can't turn our backs on them now.  I'm convinced that with continued support from democratic countries around the world, Ukraine will prevail over the Russian military and recover every square inch of its land.  It won't be easy for them, but they're prepared to sacrifice and do what it takes to get there.

With help from our growing base of donors, we can all play a small role in helping them get over the finish line.  Having Ukraine prevail in the end will inevitably benefit the entire free world, as they've decimated the Russian military without any foreign soldiers having to give their lives. Let's not let our support for Ukraine falter!

Slava Ukraini! Heroyam Slava!  

("Glory to Ukraine!  Glory to the Heroes!")

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