Louise Martin, left, hugs Jennifer De Tapia, of Salt Lake City, as they both volunteer for the Siobhan’s Trust tent in Medyka, Poland, on Wednesday, April 20, 2022.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Editor’s note: Deseret News journalist Kyle Dunphey and photojournalist Kristin Murphy traveled to the border of Ukraine in Poland and surrounding countries to view the impact of the refugee crisis. This is the second of several dispatches from the border.

An odd combination of smells hangs over the Ukraine-Poland border village of Medyka. There’s diesel fumes from the mileslong line of trucks idling at the port of entry, smoke from wood-burning fires, roasting chicken from an aid tent run by United Sikhs, a steady cloud from hundreds of cigarettes and a wafting stench from rows of port-a-potties.

Except for the ones near Christie Nelson’s tent, because she cleans those herself.

On March 2, long before global giants like the United Nations and the Red Cross set up their sprawling, heated tents, Nelson, a California native now based out of London, was sitting in a small hut pushed up against the pedestrian gate at the Ukrainian border. Her mission was simple — offer a safe space for women to nurse babies, change diapers and receive tampons, pads and other hygiene products. And, use clean toilets. The cleanest in Medyka.

“She was there before the big boys got here,” says Hymie Dunn, of London, who teamed up with Nelson in the early days of the war.

Polish officials have consistently referred to Medyka as the busiest border crossing throughout the crisis, due largely in part to the railway that runs through the village. About three times each day, trains evacuating people from war-torn regions of eastern Ukraine cross through Medyka, the first stop just 10 miles west in the historic town of Przemsyl.

Now, as Russia enters the third month of its invasion, which has driven over 2.8 million refugees into Poland, a colorful tent city has risen in Medyka.

It’s drawn volunteers from around the world — and Utah — many of whom keep pushing back their return flights as the fulfillment of humanitarian work and the tightknit community sucks them back in.

It’s a front base for groups launching aid missions into …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Utah News


Ukraine refugees: What are volunteers doing at the Poland border?

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