Stories from Ukraine: Driving to Safety

The following is being shared by GoAbroad’s Founder, Troy Peden, as he actively volunteers in Poland to help Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine. To read Troy’s statement about the conflict.

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Santiago Peden with the new van funded by the GoAbroad Foundation fundraiser.

March 23, 2022

We took possession of the van on Tuesday. Thank you to everyone (so many) who contributed with a special thank you to Ken Jones, James Scott, Jeff Weerda, Shelley Burback Smith and Brad Smith, Josh Pearlman and Beth Leader Pearlman, the entire Zach Nigut family, Heather Donnafield Nigut family, the Sandy Kacos and Kacos family, Brent Hunter, Molly Malloy, Cassie Taylor and Luke Taylor, Marie Claire, Bruce Jones, Ashley Houston, Gordon Banks and Cynthia Banks, Jay VanDerWerff and the VanDerWerff family, Sarah Catanzarite and so, so many more.

John Lawler and Santiago Peden have set the van up for operations and made it legal. John and Kari have been working from the Przemsyl Train Station. Kari is interpreting, John is working with the UK transfer system to help refugees get to the UK. Santiago continues to shuttle people and supplies. A couple more volunteers will arrive this week. The changes in the attacks within Ukraine seem to have changed the flow of refugees. The border point where we had been working has slowed from 100,000 refugees a day to less than 50,000 but the trains coming from Ukraine are still at capacity every day.

Our current objective is to help refugees get from Ukraine to a home where they can stay for an extended period without time at the refugee camps. Specifically, John has been communicating with a Brit in western Ukraine who is working with the UK program for refugee assistance. If successful, we will drive refugees out beginning next week and then get them additional support for transport and visa processing and a home already arranged in the UK.

This weekend we will be moving a family to Munich to stay in a long term home. Many of the families are reluctant to move far from the border. One mother who has a young son fighting in the war says she wants to be able to run back if he is hurt. Others believe that the war will be over quickly and want to return home as soon as possible.

Many of you have asked if you can house families at your homes. If you are in the US, it will likely be some time before refugees travel that far. If you are in the UK, [contact me] and I can connect you to the system, for other countries within Europe message me and I will let you know who to talk to.

If you are interested in helping a specific individual, let me know as well. Most of the children arrive with no belongings. The distribution of aid is growing quickly, but there are kids already with families who could use some clothes and school materials.

Thank you again for all your support for the Ukrainian people and thank you for supporting our small effort to help.

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