While U.S. trucking company owner Bogdan Golosinskiy left Ukraine with his family when he was 9 years old, he says he can’t ignore the plight of hundreds of thousands of people attempting to flee the country since Russia launched its full-scale military invasion Thursday.
On Monday, Golosinskiy, founder of Safe Way Carrier, headquartered in Strafford, Missouri, was flying to Warsaw, Poland, to provide humanitarian relief to refugees, who reportedly are waiting in lines up to 18 miles long, either in cars or on foot, at the Ukraine-Poland border.
“I was young when I left Ukraine so I never thought it would affect me this emotionally like it did when I saw that Russia had invaded,” Golosinskiy told FreightWaves on Sunday. “It was a last-minute decision to go. A lot of humanitarian organizations jumped on this situation pretty quick, but as soon as the war escalated, they were all told to leave Ukraine right away.”
Since Ukrainian officials announced Thursday that all men between the ages of 18 and 60 cannot leave the country, many husbands and fathers have been forced to drop their loved ones as close to border crossings as possible, then turn around and head back into the war-torn nation.
While humanitarian aid organizers are waiting for people at the borders of Poland, Hungary, Romania and other bordering countries, Golosinskiy and others are concerned about those waiting for days in the cold without food, water or shelter. He is working with church organizations to provide relief at all border crossings into Poland.
“We’ll be setting up tents with generators for heat, food, coffee, tea, anything to help them while they are waiting for the line to move into Poland,” he said.
Golosinskiy has had offers from large humanitarian organizations in the U.S. to donate generators, tents and other supplies. However, the problem is finding a company willing to donate a cargo plane to fly U.S. supplies into Warsaw.
“People have donated cash and that’s good, but we’re hearing that supplies in Poland are tight so we’re worried that we won’t be able to buy a lot of items we need to help refugees once we arrive,” Golosinskiy said. “A company willing to donate a cargo jet would be a great help.”
Golosinskiy, along with his parents and seven siblings, first settled in Vancouver, Washington, after his family was offered asylum in the U.S. in 1992, following the collapse of the Soviet Union a year earlier.
His dad, Nikolay Golosinskiy, was sentenced to four years of hard labor at a work camp by the former USSR regime in 1958 for his religious beliefs. He served as the pastor of a Christian church in his hometown of Cherkasy, Ukraine, located about two hours northwest of the capital city of Kyiv. Golosinskiy has six cousins who still live in Cherkasy.
Safe Way employee helps at Ukraine-Romania border
Eugene Kudoiar, 31, of Chernivtsi, Ukraine, has worked for Safe Way and its sister company, Logistics Experts or LogEx, for over a year now and assists with back-office support.
On Sunday, Kudoiar, his wife and their 10-month-old daughter were forced to seek shelter underground as air sirens sounded, though thankfully the city wasn’t hit by Russian shelling.
“We pray for peace in our country,” Kudoiar told FreightWaves. “Each person is trying their best in some way to do something good to help our country.”
He, along with members from his church, are driving vans loaded with firewood, food, tea and other supplies to aid Ukrainian refugees waiting in 15- to 20-mile lines to cross into Romania.
He said hundreds of Indian medical students studying in Chernivtsi are stranded near the border without shelter after their government told them to leave Ukraine.
“Cabs or buses took them to where the huge line starts, but then they had to get out and keep walking, maybe 10 miles with all of their luggage,” he said.
His church group delivered firewood, food and blankets to the students as they wait to cross the border.
Kudoiar said some mothers and their children are stranded in their cars with no food or diapers for their babies.
“The mothers are afraid to lose their place in the huge lines to get supplies so they have put signs in their car windows asking for help so we are trying to help as many as we can,” he said.
“That was overwhelming after talking to the mother of a 3-month-old baby, who was hungry, because I have a baby too,” he said. “There is so much need here to help those who can’t get across the borders yet.”
His birthday was Feb. 21, a few days before the Russian invasion, but Kudoiar said he and his family didn’t celebrate.
“We will celebrate next year when hopefully our country will be free and peaceful again,” he said.
This article originally appeared on Freight Waves