IPA Germany: Ukraine - we are helping ... ми допомагаємо

05 Apr 2022

War in Ukraine...

...the shock and concern for the people paralysed us, but not for long. It was clear to IPA Germany that help had to be provided, immediately!

With the beginning of the refugee crisis, we received more than 40 offers from IPA families, who were willing to welcome children, women, and whole families of Ukrainian colleagues into their homes.

In order to provide the refugees with relief supplies, committed IPA friends became active and put together relief transports, which were initially financed by the German IPA Section and then became more and more extensive through a variety of donations.

German IPA members, but also the International Executive Board and IPA Sections Ireland, Iceland, Canada, North Macedonia, Switzerland and Turkey transferred generous amounts that were spent directly on relief items, and so the first transport of supplies could start.

So far, around 60,000€ have been collected and more transports could be organised. Again and again, IPA friends use their free time to go to Poland and bring their deliveries to where they are needed, with the help of IPA Section Poland. Since some of the transports are by bus, on the return journey our friends are able to take Ukrainian refugees back with them to their new destinations.

 This really shows what friendship means, and the IPA can be proud. Several radio stations and newspapers are also reporting on the relief efforts and thus give hope for further financial donations, which will enable us to continue helping.

The team of the first transport tells the following story:

“On 10 March 2022, two of my colleagues and I drove to Poland in a bus and a truck. The bus transported almost 7 tons of relief supplies. Unfortunately, I could only transport 3.2 tons in the truck.

After almost 1,500 kilometres, we arrived at our destination in Chelm, where we were able to hand over the donations from IPA Section Germany, as well as from our acquaintances, friends, and relatives.

Beforehand, we had supplied two children's homes in Łódź with everything that was urgently needed. Mostly Ukrainian orphans are cared for there.

Our colleagues from Ukraine reported from the war zone first-hand, and their reports and mobile pictures made us feel queasy.

Afterwards we drove to a refugee home in Hrubieszów with colleagues from IPA Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. This place is located 5 km from the Ukrainian border. We contacted those responsible and offered our support to take refugees to Germany. I will never forget the impressions I gained there.

Until the following day at 06:45 am, there was no-one who wanted to go to Germany. Then a call came that 13 refugees wanted to go to Dresden. We could hardly believe it, but 30 minutes later the entire bus was full of people, and one could see that they all had obviously experienced a lot of suffering and exertion.

I stood next to the senior transportation coordinator while heart-breaking scenes unfolded in front of the bus. She suddenly noticed how difficult it was for me to speak. Tears ran down her cheeks, and she said to me: "I've been doing this for two weeks now, and I feel like this every day here".

Then we had to go back to work, but the next vacation days are booked. We will continue and will not leave these people alone, some of whom got on the bus with just a small plastic bag.I don't want to imagine what was going through people's minds as they got further and further from home minute by minute. Our journey led via Katowice to Dresden, and from there to Frankfurt.

Originally, we had expected a maximum of 13 people for our transport of refugees who had fled from the war zone. When the bus was suddenly full, we had to improvise. The previously purchased sausages, sweets and drinks would not have lasted long for 44 people. We tried everything to enable particularly the children to have a carefree ride. Luckily, one of our team, Mathäus, speaks Polish and was able to bridge the language barrier well.

We tried everything to offer our passengers a warm meal before the expected lengthy ordeal in the initial reception centre (EAA) in Dresden. Despite good contacts to the German Red Cross in Rhineland-Palatinate and the Order of Malta Volunteers in Dresden, it was unfortunately not possible to organise anything adequately in this short time. However, we were promised help for our next transport.

About 170 km before Dresden, we drove to a motorway service area and invited everyone to a warm meal in the snack bar there. Exhausted from the day's exertions, we finally arrived at the EAA in Dresden at 11:00 pm. It is a strange feeling to collect people from a school gym, drop them off at another gym, and then to just drive away.

Leaving the hall, we saw exhausted, sad, tired, and hope-seeking faces. My last police teddy bear found a happy new owner here. We said goodbye to the Ukrainian refugees, and then received the best possible reward for our work: a quiet ‘Spasibo’ and a smile.”

Facts and figures of the first transport:

We spent 180 working hours on the preparation and follow-up plus the trips, we used 800 litres of diesel for the bus and 250 for the truck to transport 10 tons of relief supplies and drive 44 refugees to Dresden ...

… and we have brought back countless impressions.


Text: Hubert Vitt, IPA Germany

Photos: Christian Heckens, IPA Germany