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  • Mary Mykhailenko

Today I want to share the story of our volunteer, Paul.

Originally, we could not post this story in English because he did not tell his relatives where he was going and couldn’t afford the exposure.

He came to Ukraine from Austria over a month ago, and today, he volunteers at our vegetable peeling station every day. When he first learned of the war, he knew he could not sit by and watch. So, he found passage to Kyiv, to a country where he did not know anyone.

His story began with a bus ride to the Poland-Ukraine border. After crossing the border, he was picked up by humanitarians and taken to the Lviv railway station where he awaited a train to Kyiv.

Paul got to the capital around 10 pm and, knowing nothing about the curfew, decided to walk to Maidan. He was subsequently detained by officers on duty and police never arrived to take him back to the station, so he went back to the station on foot. He spent the night on the streets, and in the morning, went back to Maidan.

He was told he could find some work, but by the morning, posts had changed and he was sent elsewhere. He decided to go back home because he not found a way to help, but as he passed by volunteers filling sandbags for barricades, he decided to help recruit at least one.

This was where he could be of use. He met people who housed him in their apartment for three weeks as he worked to fill sandbags that were used by the team to cover the monument of Princess Olga.

The owner of the apartment mentioned that his son volunteers in our kitchen. So, Paul decided to lend his services to provide food to the people of Ukraine. He now comes every day to peel vegetables, help unload buses, and make sure that everything is in order. Additionally, he works to lift our spirits every day, bringing us cookies, candy, coffee beans for the car, tea and much more.

He says it helps people feel happy, that this is something normal. We drink coffee, eat cookies, and continue working. He believes that you need to be in a good mood when you cook food so that the person who eats it is better protected.

Despite what some of his friends and family think, he is not a tourist or even a dark tourist. He is a humanitarian and a citizen of the world. We hope that his experience, efforts and impact here can illustrate that the most important work often doesn’t bring money. But that ordinary help and hard work is the most extraordinary accomplishment of man.

He will return to Austria in ten days and we are incredibly grateful for all he has done.

People are incredible.

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