PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Beach-based Operation Blessing’s International Disaster Relief team has been in Poland for the last three weeks helping refugees.
10 On Your Side was there as they loaded supplies from their Chesapeake warehouse earlier this month.
On Thursday, WAVY caught up with the team’s director, who is on the border of Ukraine and Poland. The team is set up at one of the busiest refugee crossings in Poland.
When refugees cross that border from Ukraine to Poland, they travel through a corridor of tents among them. Some are from Operation Blessing.
“It is quite improvised, but very cozy,” said, Diego Traveres, the team’s director.
Traveres showed 10 On Your Side a spot where they welcome the weary. A place to recharge their bodies, and their cell phones.
“Most of them they come very exhausted, very tired and we kind of provide what is needed here at the border,” Traveres said.
They have hygiene items and desperately needed blankets to protect the thousands of women and children who come through there each day.
“There’s no words to describe the pain, for sure, you know,” he said.
From there, most refugees will board busses to shelters. There’s a large one about 25 minutes away from the site inside a mall.
“We run some programs there for counseling. Also, we play some games with the kids; we have some of our volunteers playing with them,” Traveres said.
It’s the kids that really get to Traveres — himself a father of two.He listens to women forced to run without their husbands — half of whom have no idea what’s next.
“And now ‘What should I do? Where should I go?’ So that question is something I can’t really answer. I don’t have a solution for it and it’s breaking my heart,” Traveres said.
He’s been working 16-hour days for three weeks, running between the border and warehouse in Poland. They also have a warehouse and workers they’re supplying inside Ukraine with water, infant formula, fresh fruits and more.
“Those truckers are, those drivers are, the brave ones at this point that are taking high risk,” he said.
Back at the border, a hot dog and a warm smile will help to fuel the Ukrainians and their souls as their long journeys continue.
Operation Blessing is buying most of its supplies in Poland, Hungary and Croatia. If you would like to help, go to the Operation Blessing website.