Through Siobhan’s Trust we have also been supporting a project on the border with Ukraine in Poland – through the ladies on Platform 3 at Przemyśl Station. Led by the indomitable Lucyna, these volunteers; teachers, nurses, mums, have been supporting the most vulnerable mothers and children who arrive on the evening train from Kyiv every day. The train trundles into Platform 3 any time between 8 and 11pm. Many families have started their journey far further east in Ukraine than Kyiv and stepping onto Platform 3 is often their first taste of safety after days of stress and fear.
Platform 3, Przemyśl Station, Poland
The now predictably sad daily sight of up to 600 mothers and their children dismounting, looking travel weary, disorientated and apprehensive, onto the platform where they have little more than 10 minutes to board trains to Prague, Warsaw and Hanover. This wretched reality is played out as if in black and white, only illuminated by the warm smiles and the affectionate greeting of the ladies who run the humanitarian stall handing out welcome packs to children as well as much needed water, hot drinks, snacks, toiletries, sanitary products and warm clothes. To watch the impact of this simple kindness is humbling but you see that their support goes far beyond practical help and much needed sustenance; it gives these tired, frightened, numb travellers a sense of support, love and hope.
The volunteers at Platform 3 now have a new tent and heater (thanks to the generosity of a Sedbergh School parent) which replaced a ramshackle construction that not only let the rain in but provided limited protection from the wind and the cold. This was especially valuable and much appreciated during winter but the need will not reduce as summer approaches.
The ladies rely entirely on donations and always need funds (to buy fresh sandwiches and doughnuts), bottled water is in desperate need, also snacks, toiletries and later in the year warm clothes, especially for children.
Returning from Ukraine in March Troels Henriksen also visited Lucyna and her team on Platform 3 and was clearly moved by his experience. He said, “These wonderful ladies have been here every night since the 24th February 22. Not because they have to be, they do this as volunteers (they have all come from long day jobs), but because they want to be and need to be there to help the 400+ displaced human beings who come through the station on the 8pm train every night on their way somewhere … they often do not yet know to. They provide them with food and water, and toys for the kids, of which there are many, for the rest of their journey into Europe … and they show them that there are people who care … and that is very special at a time when they are fleeing their homeland.”
Lucyna has urgently been in touch saying, “Water is what we need most at the moment; women, children and elderly coming off the trains every day visibly dehydrated and distressed. We need to provide over 2,000 bottles per month and have managed to source ½ litre bottles at cost; but we still need to raise £400 a month for this basic need. Any help would be so appreciated.”