I have been at the Hungary-Ukraine border since March 7th. From the beginning, my priority has been to listen closely to refugees and volunteer groups to provide the exact aid they need, precisely where and when it’s needed. With the help of your donations so far, this effort has grown into an highly agile humanitarian operation, supporting displaced persons on both sides of the Hungary-Ukraine border.
Here's what this is all about:
Same-day delivery of food and hygiene products to Ukraine's internally displaced
So far, your donations have gone towards delivering over 25,000 lbs (~11,000 kg) of aid directly to them. Each item delivered is specifically requested beforehand by recipients on the Ukrainian side of the border, primarily orphanages (now at four times capacity due to heavy fighting in other parts of Ukraine) and other overcrowded shelters straining to cope with this escalating humanitarian emergency.
(Thank you, Ford Hungary, for lending a Ford Ranger to deliver these supplies)
To move large-scale shipments of aid into Ukraine without getting stuck at the border, you need proper credentials. That's why I've partnered with a local NGO that moves these supplies across the border through diplomatic channels. This key logistical advantage enables supplies to end up in the hands of internally displaced Ukrainians within just a few hours. It also means that we can deliver highly perishable goods like raw meat, fresh vegetables, and dairy without delay. All supplies are purchased from wholesalers using special humanitarian credentials. So not only are these items purchased at a considerable discount, they're also tax-free.
(A shipment of ham bound for Ukraine)
Transporting Ukrainian-language children's books to displaced children in Hungary
Millions of Ukrainian children have had their education upended by war. Your donations will also volunteer groups who purchase large shipments of children's books directly from Ukrainian publishers, which are then used to further the education of displaced children in Hungary. Your donations go towards the logistics of transporting these books from Ukraine to Budapest, where there's a growing network of pop-up schools and social centers for Ukrainian children.
Providing comfortable hotel accommodations for arriving refugees:
For many refugees, the journey to the Hungarian border often takes days, if not weeks, of travel in highly treacherous conditions—on roads under constant rocket attacks, over partially-collapsed bridges, and through hundreds of armed checkpoints. A chance to rest and recuperate is absolutely critical in these circumstances. Yet once refugees finally cross the border, they often have to stay in crowded gymnasiums. I work to keep these gyms empty by providing comfortable hotel accommodations—private rooms with large beds, showers, wifi, breakfast—for as many refugees as I can. A good night's rest (or two) in safe and comfortable accommodations will help refugees make critical decisions about what to do next. By building partnerships with local hotels in Eastern Hungary, I can now house up to 22 people per night on an as-needed basis.
Speaking directly with refugees and volunteers to address their immediate needs:
A local volunteer group said they needed some more beds to handle a sharp influx of refugees; I delivered 10 more within two hours. One woman told me that she had been carrying her three cats in a single gym bag for nearly a week; I delivered pet carriers to her first thing in the morning. This is precisely the kind of targeted relief that’s only possible by speaking directly to refugees and volunteers on the ground.
Interpreting and transportation services for refugees:
As an interpreter, I listen closely to arriving refugees, connecting them with the right resources and lending an ear if someone just wants to talk. Because there are minimal resources and transportation options in at the border crossings, I regularly drive refugees three hours to Budapest, where they can access essential facilities and continue their journey.
Connecting families with long-term hosts in other parts of Europe:
I have worked closely with individual families to locate long-term accommodations that suit their specific needs. Thanks to the volunteer network I've developed since arriving here, I’ve connected multiple families with long-term accommodations in Germany and the Netherlands.
The effects of war are devastating. At the border, how these effects are felt changes from day to day. The needs of refugees on both sides of the Hungary-Ukraine border can shift depending on factors that are impossible to predict in such a volatile situation. This is why the approach I'm taking involves a readiness to adapt and evolve based on my observations and direct conversations with the people I'm here to help.