As y'all know, the rental car company shut us down, literally, from taking their van into Ukraine. They reactivated the van for me upon my commitment to return immediately to Poland. Right, that is all in previous blog posts. So what exactly happened after we geo-cached the food at the border warehouse (also describer earlier)?
Rather than run 2.5hrs back to Krakow empty, I went to two nearby border crossings at Przemysl and Medyka where most immigrants are crossing. It is in Przemysl that a former grocery store/mall has been converted into a provisional humanitarian refugee processing facility and bus station. What a sea of people... not overwhelming, but a steady, heavy flow of humanity in one direction. The organization and efficiency of this place is readily evident, even thru the chaos that it seems to be on the surface. They are processing and moving people quickly and effectively.
Outside in the parking lot of this place there are all kinds of NGO's set up with a tent, generally offering either clothes, food or a ride. Little soup lines and other kitchen facilites are plentiful. The provisional bus station has big, full sized city buses (perhaps 70-80 passengers each, not sure exactly) taking people to Warsaw, Krakow and other cities in Poland. Yesterday and today, there have been even bigger buses with even more people heading out fully loaded for Italy, Belgium and Germany. However, many of these people have friends or family in the smaller villiages along the way where the big buses don't stop. So that is where we fit in.
I registered as an official "refugee transporter" and got this fancy little bracelet with a QR code and an electronic photo ID and profile entered into their system.
Now, we can appear there, offer a ride to anyplace the big bus wont go, and take up to 8 people there. The passengers also have a bracelet which is then paired with mine as a record of who went with whom and to where. This is a well-structured safeguard put in place by the Polish as a safeguard for everybody involved. Anyway, until such time as we could get that replacement van, i figured we may as well help ferry people away from the border to their temporary abode. Here are a couple of examples:
There have been quite a few others not pictured, as well. Several other groups went throughout the night to a town called Rzeszow, but it was too dark for any pictures when I dropped them there. Others, just weren't in the mood for a picture. Understandable. They are ALL immensely grateful for the love and support they are feeling from the world. Something as small as a 50mile ride can mean the world to someone in their situation. The alternative is a 50 mile walk with their life belongings in a grocery bag on a cold, damp spring night. Each one gets a little laminated Scripture card with words of hope and encouragement. Even the atheists keep them and put them in their pocket!