Reports of civilians’ death and suffering in Ukraine led a trio to embark on a 50-hour journey with baby food, nappies and medical supplies to the edge of their war-torn homeland earlier last week.
Nazar Senechyn, 28 and Vasyl Senechyn, 50, who have lived in Sheffield for five years, started gathering donations four days after the Russian army started to invade. At first they initially planned on taking their cars, but after receiving so many donations from Sheffielders, they decided on taking a van given to them by their London-based friend Vasil Ugrenyuk, 49 who joined them on the journey.
When they eventually arrived at the border at 1am last Wednesday, they were met with buses and trucks leaving Ukraine as well as the cries of those who had fled.
Nazar Senechyn said: “What we saw at the Polish border was heart-breaking. Because all we saw were just children and mothers and young people trying to leave the country. Everyone was devastated, everyone was in tears. We got emotional and there was nothing we could have done to help them at that point. The pictures, the videos we see online just don’t do it justice. That’s what’s happening on the ground.”
He said he also overheard children who had escaped saying they were freezing in the minus four degree weather.
“We couldn’t do anything even though we had our blankets in our van because there was a 20 ft metal fence between us and the refugee corridor”, Mr Senechyn said. “We couldn’t approach it because there were people in the way, and we basically had to witness them suffer. Leaving the border, we were distressed and really upset after what we witnessed. We knew what we did was just a drop in the ocean of what was needed to make a huge difference.”
All the donations received were transported to an army-based hospital in Lviv, Ukraine where the medical supplies donated were used instantly due to shortage. Lviv is where Nazar and Vasyl’s Ukrainian family currently live. The city was shelled and bombed yesterday morning.
The duo are keen to make the journey to help their people again. However, they have stopped taking donations due to not being able to find transportation big enough to take it.
If you or someone you know has access to transportation, please contact the family on the facebook page ‘Stand with Ukraine Sheffield’.