We had a very early start leaving Dej at 3am, and stopped for coffee and to meet with the 3 other vehicles to ride together in a caravan. All tanks were filled up and ready to go. We were joined by a mom with two kids and a single lady who needed a ride to Cernavtsi because they want to go home to Ukraine. They are unsure about what the future holds for them, but are hopeful that the war ends soon and they can live home safely. After driving for one hour we stopped by in Bistrita to pick up another mother and her 16 years old daughter. It was sad to see them alone, shivering in the early morning cold at 4am, heading back to their war-torn home country, reuniting with husband and sons.
Our team will meet with the other team members, lead by People and Deeds president who is the lead on the Brovary Children and mom’s rescue operation. We drove through beautiful Oriental Carpathian mountains as we were getting close to Suceava, which is approximately 30 miles from Siret border with Ukraine.
Crossing the border to Ukraine was very smooth and short. We stopped at Philadelphia Center where we dropped off the Ukrainian refugee women and children where they will stay for a few days until they find transportation to their home. Local volunteers helped our team unload two of the three vans taken to Ukraine. The third van and trailer were taken to the local church which serves as distribution hub to refugees who live in Cernavtzi seeking placement.
Mihaela interviewed pastor Victor who is one of the 6 leaders who run operations at Philadelphia Center and he shared some powerful stories about families he has talked to. When asked about the most heart wrenching story he’s heard from Ukrainian families, he shared the story of a woman who arrived at the center with her daughters and told him their story. They were living in the hallway between two rooms, always making sure there are two walls between them and the outside and although they learned the specific noises of the Ukrainian or the Russian fighters, they realized one day that they were hearing a different kind of noise and that was of a Russian tank parked right beside their apartment building. They went in the basement to see what was going on and saw the tank pipe directed at them and realized the danger they were in. They escaped through the basement window and after days of traveling by food and car, they made it safely to the Center in Cernavtsi.