Every bit of help counts

Group of ERNIans enjoying time together at ERNI Romania offices.

With Anna Bespalov (ERNI Germany)

Anna Bespalov is a Business Consultant at ERNI Germany. She has lived in Berlin since 1997, but was born in the former Soviet Union. Anna comes from Belarus, so the current situation is very close to her. That’s why she didn’t hesitate for a second to volunteer to help in the Ukrainian refugee crisis. She told us how each of us can get involved to create solidarity.

Anna, you decided to lend a hand in these very difficult times. Can you tell us where exactly you are working and how you are helping the refugees from Ukraine?

I mainly help directly in Berlin, where I collect necessary things and then transport them to places where they are needed.

Do you also help at the Polish border with Ukraine?

The journey to the border takes me 7 to 8 hours. So besides my job, I only do it on weekends. You pick people up from the border and take them to collection points. Since the legal situation is not yet fully developed, if you have a passport as a refugee, you can be taken directly to acquaintances or to places of accommodation like hotels. Otherwise, you will be taken to gathering points (reception centres).

The first three to four days after the outbreak of the war we were all still in shock, now after a week it is more organised how we proceed. On many media or websites you can find lists of what exactly is needed and where it is needed. So the help has become much more targeted.

How does all the volunteering work, how often are you involved?

This week I have been out about three or four times. But the coming weekend will be intense, because we want to be back in action at the border. We make a plan with the other volunteers so that there is no double driving. But you also need a lot of sorting help on site. Once you arrive at the border, everything has to happen very quickly. The unloading in Ukraine has to take place very quickly. We are all always waiting for updated information so that we can be prepared and work effectively.

How can you imagine the situation on the spot?

When you experience it directly, it’s like being in the matrix. In the meantime, I now try to ignore the bombing videos on the internet because of my inner peace, so I can stay calm and help. I can’t find words for what’s happening, it’s unimaginable.

What motivated you to get involved? What advice would you give to others who want to help but maybe don’t dare and don’t know how to do it?

As for the question about my motivation, I think it was my heart and compassion that drove me. Help is needed and if you have healthy hands and feet, any help really counts. If the willingness is there, then let’s not hesitate for long. There is no need to be afraid, the refugees are all people in a desperate situation.

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