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Polish Parents Leave Baby Strollers For Arriving Ukrainian Refugees As An Act Of Solidarity
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Good News, Parenting5 months ago

Polish Parents Leave Baby Strollers For Arriving Ukrainian Refugees As An Act Of Solidarity Interview With Author

The terrors of the Ukraine-Russia war continue to permeate our lives. The disturbing images, the heartbreaking disregard for innocent human life, the uncertain future for us all; the heaviness of the situation making it difficult to remain unaffected. The unprovoked attack on the Ukrainian people is in its third week and regardless of how much we’d like it to end, there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. It feels like all we can do is feel for the Ukrainian people, donate to multitudes of organizations, help house and support the refugees.

Over 2M people have left their homes in order to find safety and, according to UNHCR, more than 1M Ukrainians have fled to Poland alone since February 24th, when Russia started its invasion of Ukraine. As tragic as the situation is, we must revel in the strength of Ukrainian people and the abundance of kind gestures offered by the people of neighboring countries. One of them being the multitudes of Polish families leaving baby strollers in train stations for arriving mothers who might need them.

More info: Twitter

The generosity of the Polish people has been revealed in a picture showing abandoned baby strollers, awaiting Ukrainian mothers that might need them

Image credits: Francesco Malavolta

The refugees fleeing Ukraine have been given a warm welcome in Poland, one of the huge banners reading: “You are safe here,” said Anastasia Lapatina, a journalist at the Kyiv Independent. Refugees are provided with necessities for no charge including food, water, and clothing. They can also take advantage of phones with prepaid plans, accommodation, and legal advice at the stations. However, that isn’t everything.

A picture went viral showing a line of abandoned baby strollers, some empty, some full of necessities, at the Przemyśl Główny train station, near the border crossing between Ukraine and the city of Przemyśl, Poland. The image was taken by photojournalist Francesco Malavolta, documenting the refugee crisis around the borders of Poland, Slovakia and Hungary since the war officially began.

The slightly eerie picture brings upon a bitter-sweet feeling; the silence is loud. Francesco told TODAY that what struck him about the scene was the absence of people, whilst two meters away there were miles of people waiting to enter a place of safety. The photojournalist stated: “I thought of them both… about the solidarity of those who brought the strollers and the dramatic stories of mothers fleeing the war.”

The picture went viral and people have started leaving strollers at various points between the Ukraine-Poland border

Image credits: Francesco Malavolta

Eduard Koller shared the picture on Twitter and wrote, “The most beautiful photo I’ve seen today: Polish moms left strollers at the train station, for Ukrainian moms who may need them when they arrive in Poland with kids”. The Przemyśl Główny train station isn’t the only one full of strollers. The idea has since caught on and people are leaving them in multiple points on the border between Ukraine and Poland.

The immense generosity of the Polish people cannot be underrated. The initial image has since become one of the symbols of solidarity with refugees, and as Francesco says, “there should always be and for everyone, regardless of the starting points of the most fragile.”

Bored Panda reached out to Francesco to ask him about his mission, and he stated: “My mission is to witness one of the fastest growing refugee crises of our time. To document what is going on in Europe and how people’s lives are destroyed for political or economic reasons.” He focuses on the people’s suffering and aims to facilitate the understanding of the real meaning of war. But as he says, it’s not about the photographs themselves, “it’s more about the relevance of what I witness and the need for the world to know the truth. Beyond diplomacy, beyond political negotiations, there are real human beings whose lives have been destroyed.”

Joy, anger and longing: some of the most commonly seen emotions in the pictures bringing us closer to the people most affected

Snopes translated and posted what Polskie Radio, Poland’s national public-service radio broadcasting organization, was reporting on the refugee crisis: “Refugees coming from Ukraine are accompanied by great emotions, fear mixed with joy that they have managed to escape from a country overwhelmed by war. However, you can also experience anger, sadness, and bitterness. Many of them do not know languages ​​other than Russian and Ukrainian, some of them are abroad for the first time.” They continue to describe the people, some with joy in their eyes because they managed to escape, others with sadness and a great longing for those who had stayed behind.

Image credits: Lâm Đức Hiền

Photographers are key: they show us the real people experiencing the war and fighting for its end

Image credits: Francesco Malavolta

Multitudes of other pictures have been posted by Francesco, Lâm Đức Hiền, David Melero and others, showing the multiple lives affected by the war. The vulnerability, the uncertainty, the fear, the sadness, and yet, most importantly, hope is beautifully captured, bringing us all to the borders.

Francesco told Bored Panda that “before being a professional photojournalist, I am a human being and I can’t prevent myself from empathizing with the people I portray. It’s exhausting to see so much suffering and feeling hopeless about it. Despite having documented migration for more than 23 years, I’ll never get used to humanitarian crises and people seeking sanctuary.”

The photojournalist describes the scene here: after bringing his family to safety, a father embraces his child before returning to Ukraine to fight.

Image credits: David Melero

David Melero, the photographer, tells the story of Ivanna and Andriy, mother and son from Ukraine who arrived by train at Przemyśl in order to flee the war. They both hug and smile when they realize they are finally safe.

Image credits: David Melero

David also captured a touching moment- the reunion of a daughter from Ukraine and a father who was waiting in Poland on the border of Medyka. It “has shattered” the photographer, whilst he was editing photos and video.

Image credits: Lâm Đức Hiền

Lâm Đức Hiền introduced us to Irena and her daughter Anastasia, who had just been reunited. Her daughter had just arrived by train from Lviv and was waiting for a border control procedure, whilst her mother waited behind the fences.

Irena had waited three days in the railway station. She has worked in Poland for about 6 years, in a fruit and veg shop. When the war broke out, she asked her sister Olga to bring her daughter Anastasia to safety. Her father Sergej had to join the army and defend Ukraine.

Seemingly small gestures mean the world to those who have left everything behind

Image credits: David Melero

David took a photo of Oleksandra, an 11-year-old Ukrainian girl from Kyiv. She and her mother Klara left with two suitcases leaving behind what they knew as their home. They arrived with their puppy at Przemyśl at two in the morning, temperatures a little below freezing.

The people arriving are mostly women and children; the men, aged 18-60, are required to stay back and fight for their country. Thus, even seemingly the smallest of gestures can make a world of difference to those who have lost everything but their lives. Starting anew is never easy and with the amount of uncertainty for what’s to happen next, anything as small and seemingly insignificant as a baby stroller becomes a massive help, not only physically but emotionally. Francesco explained that “each humanitarian crisis is different and has specific features” but he’s “always impressed by the solidarity and generosity shown by the citizens of the countries most affected”.

Image credits: Lâm Đức Hiền

Lâm Đức Hiền photographed Inesa, an 8-year-old arriving in Poland, safe with her mother from Lviv. The father and grandfather had stayed to fight for Ukraine.

To welcome people as a neighbor and not a stranger, assuring that they are not alone are some of the gifts we can give Ukrainian people in this difficult time. We need to continue showing them: we see you, we know your struggle, we empathize with your pain, and we’re here to help. Their stories are heard and we have to thank the photographers, the volunteers, all the workers on the boarders, ensuring that they are not silenced. The resources and means of helping the Ukrainian people will be listed here.

People are praising the Polish for their generosity and thoughtfulness. Truly a symbol of kindness and humanity

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Hey pandas, what do you think?
Kazza
Community Member
5 months ago

This brought tears to my eyes. Sometimes all it takes is a lot of people doing a simple, seemingly small effort, but collectively it adds up to great things. Imagine the relief getting off a train after days of incredibly stressful, terrifying travel…and finding someone thought of you who doesn’t even know you. ❤️

Tobiasz Blaszczynski
Community Member
5 months ago

Proud to be polish :)

humdrum
Community Member
5 months ago

This comment is hidden. Click here to view.

Now do a quick Google search into Polish treatment of African refugees.

KitKatss
Community Member
5 months ago

Actually they did begin to let the refugees into Poland, and you don't need any identification to get into Poland at that side of the border, instead of randomly accusing others, can you please do your proper research, the fact that any refugees can cross the border right now is proof in itself

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Kazza
Community Member
5 months ago

This brought tears to my eyes. Sometimes all it takes is a lot of people doing a simple, seemingly small effort, but collectively it adds up to great things. Imagine the relief getting off a train after days of incredibly stressful, terrifying travel…and finding someone thought of you who doesn’t even know you. ❤️

Tobiasz Blaszczynski
Community Member
5 months ago

Proud to be polish :)

humdrum
Community Member
5 months ago

This comment is hidden. Click here to view.

Now do a quick Google search into Polish treatment of African refugees.

KitKatss
Community Member
5 months ago

Actually they did begin to let the refugees into Poland, and you don't need any identification to get into Poland at that side of the border, instead of randomly accusing others, can you please do your proper research, the fact that any refugees can cross the border right now is proof in itself

Load More Replies...
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