Lillia Stupina crosses the border with a suitcase, a backpack, and her pedigree cat clad in long dark hair like a custom fur collar.
He went to Poland on a mission: to collect humanitarian aid and ammunition to bring back to Ukraine in a few weeks.
Her day job is as a research data analyst for a technology company – Brightest Minds – with headquarters in Dublin. It is another connection that brings the war in Ukraine closer despite the thousands of miles separating east and west. “We don’t have the drug in our area and it’s going to be a humanitarian disaster,” she said yesterday. “I decided to become a volunteer. I’m here to give humanitarian help and buy ammunition for our people, and maybe for me, I don’t know.”
Lillia hails from Sumy, close to the Russian border in northeastern Ukraine, and was one of the first cities to prepare to attack when Russian tanks arrived on February 24.
Her boyfriend, who is in the military, shared the news: “He called me at 5.58am and said to me: ‘Wake up, it’s a fight’.”
That was almost three weeks ago. Sumy has been the focus of intense battle ever since. Thousands of people have been evacuated from the city through humanitarian corridors, subject to sophisticated ceasefires that allow their safe passage to be maintained.
Her parents live in Europe. Her sister and her three young children left the city a few weeks ago, but the rest of the family is in Ukraine. Lillia stayed with Alice, her cat.
“We decided to stay in our house because if a bomb were to hit our house anyway, there would be no survivors,” she said.
She finally decided to leave for the weekend. She realized the scale of the Russian invasion when she saw Russian tanks being trained on the city as they drove out.
It’s part of the weirdness of war that Lillia talks about “working from home” akin to sourcing ammunition and medical supplies. The website of the company she works for says it is raising money for Ukraine and that many of its team members are based there have moved to safer areas or volunteered to join teams defending the territory. of Ukraine. Her boyfriend was fighting in Mariupol, a city that was ravaged by the Russians relentlessly and more than 2,000 civilians were killed.
She received her military training at the university, reaching the rank of officer. “My boyfriend is in a hot place and I think I should be there too,” she said. “I couldn’t stand by and watch. I have no other way. I have to be there, I have to help.”
Lillia’s cat is shoulder to shoulder as she stands in the middle ruins where normally the entrance to the forest park, but is now a welcome camp providing food, medical help and transport for refugees, and a transit point for supplies into Ukraine.
She is on the border Kroscienko / Smolnica.
Poplars and conifers line the outpost, marked by a few formal buildings next to a dusty old track.
There are eight border crossings between Poland and Ukraine and this is one of the quietest. A Polish policeman in a squad car said that there could be as many as 50 people passing in a day.
But since Russian forces began targeting the western cities of Ivano-Francivsz and Lviv late last week, and queues grew at Ukraine’s main crossroads at Medyka, more and more families have arrived. The The bombardment is now destroying families intending to stay.
Olga Hunchenko appeared holding the hand of her daughter Veronica, four and a half years old, fiddling with bags, a cat in a carrier and a golden labrador on her head. She is from Dnipro, central Ukraine, first attacked last week.
From Poland, Olga, her daughter and her pets plan to have a flight to Portugal. She never thought this moment would come: “My husband decided we needed to go abroad. Many attacks have been stopped by these special missile systems. I think it’s very dangerous to be with my kids there,” she said. “We could see the situation getting worse now. As you know, now we have attacks in different regions of Ukraine. It doesn’t look like a problem in one region – it’s north and west, and now it’s in Lviv. My husband decided that we needed to go to protect our children.”
Olga’s husband drove the family to Lviv and from there to the Kroscienka/Smolnica border because it was quieter and quicker to cross.
“He needed to stay there for a few days to see that we were in a safe place in Poland and that we had a flight to Portugal,” she said. “He works in the IT field. He worked at the IT army (Ukraine recruited IT specialists to protect the network infrastructure from Putin’s forces). We can help him by being abroad. He will stay in Ukraine and he will continue to do what he can our country. But he says he’ll be calmer and more focused to do so when he knows his family is somewhere safe.”
She could barely talk about leaving him. “It was a very difficult decision, because I love Ukraine and for me it was…” Her composure gave way to tears, and quickly, she wiped them away. “I really appreciate the support from all the countries… I think all will be well.
“I am still worried about my family. Because my parents (will) stay in Ukraine, so it’s really hard. But I believe we win. We are very strong. I believe in our military, and I believe in our government. I believe in the support of the world. I believe all civilizations support Ukraine. It is very important to us. ”
A red bus pulled up to take Olga’s family and others to a shelter to rest before the next leg of their journey. She waved her hand, smiled, like her water, refusing to give in.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/i-cannot-stand-by-i-do-not-have-another-road-volunteer-on-a-mission-to-collect-ammunition-to-aid-ukraine-41456295.html ‘I couldn’t stand to watch. I have no other way ‘- volunteer on duty to collect ammunition for aid to Ukraine