OPINION: Ukrainian refugees are just normal people seeking a happy life

(L-R) David Powles, Richard Knight, Adam Hale-Sutton have met Ukranian mother-of-one Vita who has fl

(L-R) David Powles, Richard Knight, Adam Hale-Sutton have met Ukranian mother-of-one Vita who has fled the fighting in Kyiv. Picture: David Powles - Credit: Archant

Editor David Powles files his weekly column from Poland where he is following efforts to help Ukrainian refugees

I’m sat in a hotel bar chatting to Ukrainian refugee Vita and her 10-year-old son Mykyta about the ordeal they have been through getting out of the country and reaching Krakow, in Poland.

In a pause while our food arrives, I ask the youngster, whose English is very impressive, what he likes to do with his time.

"Football, basketball and computer games," comes the reply, just as it would with so many millions of children all over the world.

And it’s at that point I look at the youngster and think of my own two children.

I wonder what it would be like if they were in his shoes, forced to live in a hotel room in a strange city with their mum, while their father remains back at home where the war is raging.

And through imagining the war through the eyes of a child, I am left in no doubt that, no matter what the issues involved, an invasion like the one Ukraine is facing is never acceptable and never excusable.

Most Read

No one should have to go through the fear and disruption they have faced.

It’s also at this point I settle an internal debate I’ve been having since leaving Norfolk at the weekend – was I right to join Adam to report back to readers in Norfolk on his mercy missions to Poland?

That may seem strange given the valuable nature of the humanitarian work being done out here – but prior to leaving I was concerned as to whether this story would resonate enough with readers hundreds of miles away?

But I hope it is resonating with you. I hope it’s making you realise how lucky we are to enjoy the freedom we have in this country. I hope it is moving you to act – even if it is just to contributing financially so efforts like this can happen.

I hope all of these things because, chatting to Vita and Mykyta brings home the fact they, and the many others going through the same issues at this moment in time, are no different to you and me.

They are just normal people, who want to lead a normal, happy life.

And if our country were ever to face a similar situation, I’d like to think they and others would show the same concern and compassion towards us and our plight.

Ukranian mother-of-one Vita has fled the fighting in Kyiv with her son and dog Asya. Picture: David

Ukranian mother-of-one Vita has fled the fighting in Kyiv with her son and dog Asya. Picture: David Powles - Credit: Archant

Amazing Adam's doing such good in this world

It feels like it shouldn’t, but the world needs people like Adam Hale-Sutton. So moved by what is happening to the Ukrainian people, he decided to give up his time to get out here and help.

In Poland I can best describe him as a ‘Mr Fix-It’. His main intentions are to get aid to the refugee camp in Medyka and to help Ukrainian refugees looking for a safe haven.

In reality this means so much more than just transporting from one place to another. One minute he’ll be booking a hotel, the next buying food and the next making enquiries as to what the rules are about bringing dogs out of Poland and into the UK.

At one stage he and I even spent half an hour setting up an X-Box so that 10-year-old Mykyta has something to do while waiting around the hotel.

However, watching Adam work away like a Tasmanian Devil, dipping into his own cash to make things happen, there’s one thing that nags away at me. Why should it have to come to this?

Where is the organised support for the Ukrainian refugees? What is all of the millions donated to charities tasked with providing humanitarian support being spent on?

I hope to find out in the next few days.

A Go Fund Me page has been set up for those willing to assist at https://tinyurl.com/zy9cmt2c