at transport & logistics

The Ukrainians have left their jobs to return to fight. Personally, I feel enormously proud of these people

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28 de March de 2022

Since 24th February, I have received many questions from people I know, friends and colleagues from Western Europe asking about our situation since the Russian invasion.  This has awoken some very ambitious feelings in me.  My situation is the same as theirs.  Objectively, my world has not changed much.  My daily routine is not drastically affected.  Each day, I leave the house, return home and get annoyed filling up with petrol.  I spend a lot of time watching the news. I can see the presence of the Ukrainian flag everywhere, along with containers to collect aid in stores.  Together with the people I know, we talk about various ways of helping. Some send money, others go to work at refugee reception centres as volunteers.  I know the case of a Russian, a Polish citizen for years, who invited a family of refugees into his home, and is organising the people he knows in order to help more people.

Whenever I want, I can forget that we are living through a crucial moment in the history of Europe.  I can shut myself in my house, rest and leave behind the images of bombed cities. I can argue about politics in a safe environment. The Ukrainians can’t.

Until recently, Poland was a homogenous country, with a history of a multi-cultural population, but that is long forgotten.  Some years ago, the Ukrainians gradually started to appear on construction sites, in shops in the west of Poland or on farmland.  In the logistics sector, we have got used to seeing their omnipresence in warehouses or behind the wheel of lorries.  We are moved by the fact that Ukrainian men are leaving their jobs to return to their birthplace to fight for the rights of their country, for their homeland, for a life in democracy.  It is a challenge for us to cope with the lack of trucks available… but personally, I feel extremely proud of these people.

Prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there were around 1.3 million Ukrainians working in Poland.  For this reason, the first wave of refugees got to the country so quickly.  They were people who had arranged to meet relatives and acquaintances living here, who met them at the border and took them to their homes in Poland or in other countries, but along with the massacres caused by the Russian missiles, people without anything started to arrive in Poland, coming directly from the air raid shelters which they had to flee in order to save their lives.

People in pyjamas, without any luggage, without papers, women with children who are scared, completely lost, not knowing what awaits them on this side of the NATO border.  They arrived terrified, lost, with their traumas, vulnerable and insecure and the only positive thing that I can see in this situation is that my village has embraced them with open arms.  More than 3 weeks have passed. 2 million people have entered Poland and are still entering. They are everywhere, particularly in the major cities, such as Warsaw, Krakow, Lodz… but also in small villages in the south-west of Poland.

Most of them are being taken in by unknown volunteers. The Polish state has yet to find an effective institutional way to provide aid.  Yesterday, a friend of mine from a small village in Poland told me that he was painting the attic of a neighbour’s house, because several neighbours had decided to take in two families and they were preparing a home for them.  We can see similar stories on television. We can hear strangers discussing them on public transport, in supermarket queues.  They provide a lot of encouragement and satisfaction, but like all spontaneous actions, they cannot continue for long without new resources.  There is a shortage of money, of people and places to shelter people. Those who continue working are exhausted.

One word that is most frequently heard here is “solidarity”. It is an important word here in Poland and the endemic meaning of this term refers to the spontaneous movements of people organised around a great idea. This word has been rather overused in recent years as it has been exploited in pure and simple politics, which is now returning to its origins.

So, if you are in a position to donate something, don’t hesitate to do so.

Ukraine and the Ukrainians deserve it.


 Krzysztof Lewandowski

Manager VASCO Polonia