On March 1, 2022 I arrived to Warsaw. You can read more about it here.
Poland was the best place for me to be at the time. You could feel unity and solidarity with Ukraine and Ukrainians everywhere and the desire to help.
Ukrainian flags were everywhere. Posters to help displaced Ukrainian were everywhere. It made me feel that Ukraine is not alone. And that was very comforting feeling. Who likes the feeling of being alone? Especially during the most troubled times - such as war.
I remember coming to Poland thinking that maybe I can somehow help displaced Ukrainians. With translation or something. But when I came I quickly realized that Poles had everything covered. So many people were involved in helping newly arriving Ukrainians. And that was comforting to me too. Because I realized that I can focus on thinking how to help people in Ukraine. It was less things to worry about. It was important because at the end of March I went to Germany and my experience was the opposite. Instead of worrying about Ukraine in Germany I’d worry about German politics towards the war. Which is the last thing you want to do - worry about things that are of way less priority and which you cannot impact much.
Anyway. I wanted to tell two stories from my time in Warsaw. After I arrived to Warsaw I immediately went to the military store to buy some things that I can sent to Ukraine. On March 1 the most important things at that moment - bullet proof vests and helmets - were already sold out. So I needed to buy some smaller things that were requested. Shopping assistant was so helpful all this time. He really felt for Ukraine and people and tried to help. I bought some things and he gave me 25% discount. And that felt very good at the moment. Because you often hear about profiteers that try to make money of people during troubled times. And he didn’t. You can see that he cared and wanted to help. And it was a small thing. But I had tears writing this, because I remembered him and that day again. Small thing - calling his suppliers, giving discount, really carrying - that makes such a big impact. We are human and we can be humane and when that happens it’s beautiful.
Next story happened maybe 10 days later. A friend of mine was coming to Warsaw. She needed to go to the Ukrainian border, pick up her godson, go back to Warsaw and then go with her godson to Estonia. I volunteered to drive her from Warsaw to the border and back. It was great for me, because doing anything during those days meant so much for my mental health. It meant 1) not checking news for one day 2) doing physical work that would exhaust me 3) doing something useful for other people.
So I went to the airport to pick her up. I was going to rent a car directly from the airport. I come there with my American Driving License and the guy told me that it’s not possible to have a car because American Driving License is not accepted anymore and I need International Driving License - which I don’t have. This surprised me because just 5 month before I was able to rent a car in EU with my license, so I wasn’t prepared for this situation.
But then guy sees my Ukrainian passport and asks me what do I need. I tell him the story how I need to go to the border. He calls his friend that works for the smallest rental agency that only has 3 cars. Guy tells me that he can give me the car from his friend. And that I would need to pay the same amount. I pay him money. He doesn’t even take the copy of my credit card details and we go to pick the car. And when we came to the car I’m shocked. He gives me the keys from the white BMW.
He gave me keys from very expensive car. That belonged to his friend. Without charging me extra for that expensive car. He didn’t ask for any deposit or thing like that. He just wanted to help. All he said was - when you are done, try to fill up the gas and drop off the keys.
That was it. The fact that two random people at the airport helped me that day still touches me today.
I’m grateful for the car of course, but mostly I’m grateful for that act of kindness and support and help. It was so important to me during those days.
And I’ll be forever grateful to those 3 people in Poland.