mtc supporting Humanitarian work in Ukraine

22 Apr 2022

mtc supporting Humanitarian work in Ukraine

mtc had an opportunity to take part in supporting Ukrainian refugees on the Polish-Ukrainian border, and help with sending supplies and evacuating civilians from besieged cities.

This article was written by mtc employee Chris Cole, recounting his experience travelling to Ukraine to support refugees in crisis.

Content Warning: this article contains descriptions of the war in Ukraine that readers may find distressing.

Thanks to mtc’s Volunteering Policy, which enables employees to take paid time-off for charitable endeavours, I had the opportunity to travel to the Polish-Ukrainian border, to towns called Zamość (Zosin border crossing) and Przemyśl (Medyka-Korczowa border crossings). The aim was to use the money mtc has generously donated to hire a van to transport refugees from the border to safe temporary accommodation in Poland and then onward to their next destinations.

We stayed at the church in Zamość, which has been transformed into a refugee shelter during the week, providing kitchen and bathroom facilities, hot food, sleeping and emotional support. They are also working alongside a church in Rivne, Western Ukraine, which is transporting supplies to besieged cities and evacuating civilians to safer places in Ukraine and Poland.

Meet Natasha, a survivor of the the conflict in Ukraine

We met Natasha during our time at the border, she spent the last three days travelling from Chernihiv with her convalescent brother and her mother. Her husband stayed behind in Ukraine and is fighting for their freedom. She had been living in a basement for three weeks as the Russian troops were constantly bombarding the city. We were shown videos of the cellar and beds that were their home for the last fortnight, as well as picture after picture and story of the bombardment and horror that they were facing. Civilians who are escaping are being fired upon, women are being raped, intercepted communications of soldiers bragging about the mothers and children they’ve killed, and everything is being raised to the ground. The three were picked up by their daughter, who was in tears. She will now be safe in Gdańsk, but separated from her husband. We were able to spend time with her and give her emotional support.

The remaining money mtc donated went towards an important cause, providing supplies for vulnerable people and civilians trapped in besieged cities such as Chernihiv (before the Russian retreat).

Meet Vladislav and Petro and Pastor Wigłasz from Zamość.

These people are heroes, travelling every day, even until now, to besieged cities and back to Poland and Western Ukraine to take supplies one way and evacuate people on the journey back. Two of their friends tragically died whilst driving, being shot by Russians. We helped to load the van with goods/supplies.

The majority of the humanitarian work goes through one of the few Polish-Ukrainian border crossings. This is Zosin. We met volunteers here from Ireland, Italy, Poland, Sweden and Ukraine, all joining the effort in cooking hot meals, helping refugees recharge their mobile phones, giving out free sim cards and water, shampoo and chocolates to people. Using our rented van, we picked up a Ukrainian teenager escaping from the war and transported him to the church, to safety.

The final day of the trip was spent working alongside a UK charity called Love Bristol. Love Bristol has set up a booth in the Tesco centre (a government-run refugee centre) where they help refugees fill in visa applications for the British Homes for Ukraine scheme. The refugees then have to wait for the visa applications to process. The refugee accommodation in Przemyśl is ultra-short-term (3 days), so we were able to help Love Bristol find longer-term accommodation with a Ukrainian contact we had from a nearby town.  

Thanks to mtc’s donation and time off work, our visit was very fruitful. We finished by making friends with the Bristol team.

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