There is a war in Europe. Right in our front yard. Something none of us would have imagined just a few months earlier. A war that has already claimed thousands of military and civilian victims. A war that is so present in the media, you cannot get around being informed about it 24/7. Seeing pictures of innocent men, women, and children dying, suffering, and fleeing on the Instagram timeline in between vacation photos and puppy videos.
The moment I saw Natalja’s mail I was inspired: a way to turn words into deeds. Anyone can post an Instagram story and change their profile picture into the Ukrainian flag. But who is willing to stop talking and drive half-way across Europe in a limited amount of time? One minute after reading her mail, I texted her. With Retarus’ donation of a 100,000€, it could be possible for us to drive to Romania, bring food, medicine, and sanitary products to a charity and bring about 30 Ukrainians back to Germany for refuge. Malte, our Infrastructure Design Engineer, has already taken the trip twice: 1,700km back and forth, driving over the rough Romanian streets.
A few days later, we packed our bags and left. The Teams for our humanitarian transport vans: Simon and Cedric (Layer 8), Bernadette and Stefan (the seniors’ mobile), Marc and Dirk (the greenlings), Malte and Detlef (the leader) and Majkel and me (fast lane) building the teams for our humanitarian transport vans. On our way, people greeted us when they saw our stickers. There was a feeling of unity and strength, that I have never felt before. Driving for 30 hours straight, changing drivers when we couldn’t keep our eyes open anymore and dealing with impatient highway drivers. Picture me, 18 and not even having my driver’s license for two months… But the music, the people, and the knowledge that we can finally truly help, kept us awake. And maybe the RedBull…
When we arrived in Galati, which is 25km away from the Ukrainian border, we cleaned out the trunks, ate something, drank a “Feierabendbier” together, and went to sleep. Got up, ate something, got all the refugees together, took Covid tests and drove back. Ukrainian men, women, children, and pets fully trusting German strangers with their life. Their new life in safety. Most of the children were too young to realize what’s happening: luckily for them, our 30-hour ride was an adventure. But in their mothers’ eyes you could see the desperation, the fear of the journey into the unknown. You cannot imagine what these young eyes must have seen, the only hint was that almost none of them smiled back. The language barrier did not make it any easier for us to give them hope and to tell them that they are safe and welcome in Germany.
For me, the worst moment was dropping them off in Merseburg. Some of them didn’t know anyone there and didn’t speak English or German. They were torn from their normal lives and had to leave everything and everyone behind. The moment we dropped them off, we continued with our lives, went to dinner with our families the same night, went back to work the next day. I realized that our “problems” are nothing compared to theirs and it made me grateful for everything I have.
Living in a democracy is a privilege, something that is so natural for us that we sometimes forget its value. Thank you, Martin, for giving us the opportunity to help people in need and thank you to everyone in the R-Team for making this possible.