Bring people with disabilities from Ukraine.
Wednesday, 09 March
Start of the third tour to Ukraine. We are glad about the provision of wonderful accessible places for our groups from Soft Tulip. This time the destination is Huizen.
42 people are to be picked up, but as we have a bus with 41 seats and 6-8 wheelchair places, we manage with two vehicles.
From now on, the drivers spend one night in Lublin before driving to the border. This relieves a lot of stress and tension. The drivers can get to know each other beforehand and are well rested for the most frightening part of the journey at the border.
Thursday, 10 March goes faster than the group before. This is probably also due to the fact that all the drivers now have valid passports. Nevertheless, there is tension as to whether everyone will really be allowed to leave the Ukraine. Relief after they are finally back in Poland after many, many checks.
A church community cooked soup for everyone for dinner.
Friday, 11 March they travel from Lublin to the “Heidehotel”. The overnight stay is financed by the “Thunder Foundation”.
On Saturday, 12 March , the destination Amsterdam reached in the evening. A warm welcome and great hospitality await them.
Hanneke writes the next morning: “the group arrived well last night, they got there around 7pm and were all exhausted. What fine men the drivers of the buses are. And they worked hard too!”
The list was checked and it was clarified that one woman and her two children had got off the train in Berlin and one woman had decided at short notice to stay in Ukraine because she was afraid of the long journey into the unknown.
Two days later, on Monday 14 March 2022, the 4th tour will start with the destination Rotterdam.
Again with a completely new team and for the first time with a coach company that has provided its drivers. The two new drivers from Trier get on well with the bus drivers straight away and you notice that all four are old hands. Right at the start, they set up a WhatsApp group called “The 4 Musketeers”, a very fitting title for this joint adventure.
Tuesday, 15 March 2022 After a night in Lublin, we head for the border with Ukraine.
There they proceed slowly from one barrier to the next. When they think they are finally through, more barriers appear and each time everything is checked again. At the Polish border there is a touching scene as the officials provide the whole group with drinks.
Wednesday, 16 March 2022
They spend the night in the “Heidehotel”, where they are well looked after. Again, the “Donner Foundation” pays for the stay and food of the whole group, 47 Ukrainians and our 4 musketeers. One of the musketeers experienced a very special relationship with a young Ukrainian who cannot speak but communicates so deeply and touchingly without words. In the evening, the shy boy comes to the table to his new friend. He places the men’s hands on each other, wanting to create harmony and peace. Hüg writes: “When everyone ran off during the breaks and he continued to stay strapped in, I came to rest with him. He was so happy when I played little silly games with him. I have now been allowed to learn a sixth language, his. He guides my hand in the direction of what he wants. Joy, shame, anger, interest, I understand many things about him. The fact that he now stays with us relaxed, without shame, interested, without his mother, gives me a lot of joy. ….
He loves harmony and often brings together hands of different people who don’t know each other. Then he lays his head on his hands and becomes very calm. In the hustle and bustle of the day, these are the most moving moments for me.”😇😢
Thursday, 17 March 2022
A warm welcome in Rotterdam with cake, music … a small party for the new arrivals is celebrated. The young Ukrainian immediately gives away his chocolate to his new friend Hüg.
Friday, 18 March 2022 is the day to say goodbye. The two drivers from Trier decide to join us again for the next tour and make their way back to Stendal to spend the night at the “Willhelmshof”, which also makes the van available to us again for the next trip.
Two foreign men from Trier are lent a vehicle in Stendal to go with other foreigners to fetch people with disabilities from Ukraine. It is so fascinating how people work together across borders, immediately trust each other and give everything to save other people from the war zone.
Meanwhile, I was able to convince our friend Roman Scamoni from Innsbruck to take Pete on his route to bring Ukrainians with disabilities and their families to Romania and from there to Austria.
Roman not only motivates others, but unlike myself, he also rides along.