Friends from North West head to Ukraine border to support refugees and you can help too
1 year ago
Jenna-Rose Maldini, 29, and Peter Hutcheon, 26, are returning to the border of Poland and Ukraine to provide humanitarian aid for refugees fleeing the brutal conflict.
They have set up a GoFundMe page ‘Jenna’s Medyka and Przemsyl Refugee Project’ as they look to take across as much as they can to give to terrified families who have been forced to flee their homes with next to nothing.
Jenna-Rose, a carer from Southport, and Peter, from Burscough, who works for a mental health charity, have been friends since they studied Criminology and Sociology at Edge Hill University in Ormskirk.
Jenna-Rose said: “Peter reached out and asked if this was something I wanted to do?
“We want to do all we can to provide humanitarian aid. They just need our help. We want to be able to go over there and to make a difference to families who need it. In order to do that, we really need people to support our fundraising appeal. We want to be able to make their days easier.”
The friends first travelled to eastern Europe on 17th April.
Jenna-Rose said: “We headed out as independent volunteers to the Ukrainian border in Poland, we spent three days there and helped as much as we could. After our experience, we both decided that we wanted to go back and help even more!
“Please GoFundMe us so we can aid and supply all the refugees that need help. Thousands of families are crossing the border for safety to Medyka daily, with very little possessions or places to stay. They are guided to Przemsyl where a huge Tesco has been hollowed out and turned into a centre. They wait on cots while travel and accommodations are secured. Volunteer teams hum behind laptops under flags taped to the walls, indicating which country refugees can inquire about travelling into and lodging. Mums and grandparents wait. Children play in the hall and the kids area… But they all wait, and they wait, and they wait.
“Volunteers run around the shelter in Przemsyl assisting any way they can. The list of needed necessities that are needed changes daily. They include: hair brushes, toiletries, feminine products, shampoo, face wipes, shaving kits, blankets, fresh clothes, baby food, pet food.
“Children need puzzles, activities, colouring books, sweets. It all depends on who and how many people show up each day. Some mornings are slow. Some midnights are frantic. Volunteers go out constantly to Lidls, charity shops, and supermarkets. They’re emptying pensions, personal bank accounts and GoFundMes to shrink those lists, stuffing them into backpacks and IKEA bags, racing them via train, minibus, cars back to the shelter, the train platform supply station and the border crossing.
“Volunteers come with NGOs, religious groups, and many alone like myself. They’ve raised funds, bought vans, and driven across a continent. They sleep out of town, crash couches, share hotels, or stay in the shelter. Since I returned home I thought over all this experience and my heart is set on going back and giving all the help I can! To do that I need support, I can’t thank everyone enough who has already donated.Please share and spread the word! It means a lot to me and it’s going to mean a lot to all the families who will be supported by generous people through raising awareness!”
The experience last time came as a shock. And the needs of millions of families displaced by war is becoming greater by the day.
Jenna-Rose continued: “One thing I noticed the last time we were there was that we didn’t see many NGOs (non governmental organisations). There were lots of volunteers there though.
“We looked to find some volunteer charities to go and support. It was so hard. There is lots of stuff that we just don’t see on the news back in the UK. There were lots of families there that turned up and they just didn’t have anything. They desperately need all kinds of things, such as toiletries, blankets, clothes, and lots more. Near the border, there were queues of cars trying to get in, but some of them heading back into Ukraine, now that most of the fighting has moved towards the east of the country.
“We did have a friend of ours over there who was an independent volunteer from Canada. Where we were, there were desks set up with flags on them, with volunteers helping people to find support for asylum. There were no Canadian flags anywhere. He was on the phone to the Canadian government to find support. He ended up going to Lviv. He said it was heartbreaking. There were so many people coming home to nothing. They need our help!
“I have kept in touch with a lot of the volunteers from over there. It is more apparent than ever just how much help they need. I just didn’t want to come back home last time. Now I can’t wait to get back out there. They need our help.”