Edmontonians describe 'surreal' experiencing of helping Ukrainians reach Polish border

Five Edmontonians are enjoying being back on Canadian soil after witnessing the impacts of the conflict in Ukraine firsthand.

Pawel Turczyk, Nestor Turczyk, Daniel Sousa, Tim Sousa, and James Sousa spent 20 days in Poland helping displaced Ukrainians.

Before leaving Canada, the team raised more than $86,000 to spend on delivering supplies and transporting Ukrainians from the border into Poland.

"It was pretty surreal. We saw batteries of missiles," Pawel said. "We saw military equipment, and we saw refugee centres full of kids and moms.

He continued, "Then we started driving people. Interacting with them and hearing their stories."

Many of the people helped by the Edmontonians were disabled and could not rely on other transit options available at refugee centres, according to Pawel.

"There was a need for us to fill and help with those people," he said. "We transported people all over Poland and into Germany as well."

What the group of brothers saw has changed them forever.

        View this post on Instagram                      

A post shared by @yeg4ukraine

Many of the Ukrainians they have helped are from Kramatorsk or Donetsk and had been living in basements for a month.

"You just scratch your head. You just don't know how we have what we have and the comforts we enjoy here," Tim said. "These people are worrying every day about how they're going to live or how they're going to get to freedom."

They all hope that Canadians understand the reality that fighting continues in Ukraine and that innocent people are getting caught in the crossfire.

"There's a lot of chaos (there)," Daniel said. "The conversation needs to keep going. The awareness needs to keep up. That's everyone's job."

"The war is still happening," Nestor added. "There are innocent people still dying."

"I'm glad we went and did what we did in the short amount of time we were there."

        View this post on Instagram                      

A post shared by @yeg4ukraine

Daniel said one incident that stuck out to him was when the group was able to transport a mother with her toddler away from the Ukrainian border.

"She was in pretty rough shape," Daniel said. "She was crying. We calmed her down and pointed her in the right direction (to get help)."

"A lot of the things that I experienced over there make you appreciate more what we have," James said. "It puts a lot of things into perspective."

With the contacts they were able to make in Poland, the men hope to continue raising money and to send aid where it's needed most.

"We as an organization are going to team up with other organizations to keep helping," James said.

        View this post on Instagram                      

A post shared by @yeg4ukraine