Are you wondering how to help the people in the Ukraine?
When I travel, I always want local knowledge and fortunately two of the smartest travel people I know shared the following– Cyd Cunniff shared John Boulding‘s post, who I traveled with in Italy when he was CEO for Insight Vacations, about what Tim Pendlebury is doing to rescue refugees:
TRAVEL WEEKLY UK: Insight Vacations tour guide rescues refugees at Ukraine border
By Samantha Mayling | March 01, 2022, 17:46
Pictured: Tim and his wife Sabina (right) with Natalia and Darya.
Poland-based Insight Vacations tour guide Tim Pendlebury has rescued a mother and daughter fleeing the war in Ukraine and set up an appeal to support refugees escaping the conflict.
He drove 300km to the Poland-Ukraine border over the weekend to collect Natalia and her daughter Darya, then helped them reunite with Natalia’s older daughter Alina, who is studying in Poznan, Poland.
The father of the family, Vadim, remains in the capital, Kyiv, as men are not allowed to leave.
Pendlebury has also set up a fundraiser on Facebook to support a Polish charity, Caritas Polska, which is helping Ukrainians arriving at the border.
In just two days, he has raised £4,257 from friends, family and followers on social media.
He met the family four years ago in the Polish city of Krakow, as they needed directions, and had exchanged social media handles.
Last week, he contacted them to ask about their situation and heard about Natalia and Darya’s bid to escape and reunite with the older daughter in Poland, so set off to meet them.
“It was organised chaos at the border, with lots of charities and frightened women and children coming out – and Ukrainian men going the other way,” said Pendlebury.
The pair had experienced a long and tiring escape – a normal 20-minute journey out of the capital had taken five hours, then a drive to their home village in western Ukraine, between Kyiv and the Polish border, had taken 20 hours instead of the usual four.
“When the traffic queue at the border didn’t move for hours, they decided to leave their luggage and walk the last 10km, and then the processing on the border took hours,” he said.
“They had not slept for several nights, and had heard missiles and bombs,” said Pendlebury.
By the time he met them, it was 3.45am – but they finally reached his home at 8am on Sunday in the small village of Gilowice, near the border with Slovakia.
He got clothes for Darya from friends and relatives before they headed to Poznan to be with Alina.
Pendlebury is now on a Polish government list, ready to help another family of four – or friends and family of Natalia and Vadim.
“We have become instant friends with the family and we want to visit them in Kyiv when this is all over,” said Pendlebury.
“Natalia and Darya were thankful, happy and emotional when they came to us – one day they were living a normal life and none of us expected Putin to invade…then it happened.
“They heard the dull thud of bombs and their lives changed – she was a banker and economist with a sideline of making and selling jewellery on Etsy.
“Now, for the past three or four days all they want is sleep, peace and a hot shower.”
He said there is a great sense of unity and “enormous collective effort” in Poland to help the Ukrainians.
As well as setting up his fundraiser, he’s buying supplies such as food and nappies from his local supermarket to donate to the Red Cross.
His appeal has received donations from his home country of Australia plus New Zealand, South Africa, US, Canada, the UK and Europe – and he has had support from colleagues at Insight vacations and its parent The Travel Corporation, where he has worked for the past 24 years.
He shared a clip of himself heading to the border to show his followers “the human aspect” of the war and how refugees “are people, just like us”.
Donations from for tour leaders and tour directors were particularly remarkable, he added, because many of them had experienced a “tough time” during the Covid crisis and not working.
He hopes to start tours in Poland again in the spring and said he will work on creating a new travel itinerary, a journey through Poland and Ukraine in the years ahead.
His appeal is called ‘Helping Ukrainian women, children & elderly fleeing Putin’s aggression’ because he said “most Russians” are against the conflict, according to feedback from his colleagues in Russia.
Want to join me in supporting a good cause? I’m raising money for Caritas Polska and your contribution will make an impact, whether you donate a lot or a little. Anything helps. Thank you for your support. Caritas Polska are providing immediate assistance to refugees fleeing the violence in Ukraine. At Poland’s borders they are there with food, water, blankets, beds & shelter, organizing and doing a great job amidst the influx of hundreds of thousands of people.Facebook pays all the processing fees for you, so 100% of your donation goes directly to the charity.