The Norfolk-led Mercy Mission working in Poland to help Ukrainians fleeing Vladimir Putin’s bombs has successfully helped bring a month-old baby named Hope to safety.
Adam Hale-Sutton, from Little Melton, leads a group in Krakow, near the border with the war-torn country.
I joined them for the week, first to drop off aid, then to help support Ukrainians arriving at the border near the village of Medyka.
On Thursday, the group – which also includes Richard Knight, from St Albans, and Vita, a Ukrainian who fled her city of kyiv and is now acting as an interpreter – traveled in a minibus and van to pick up a group of eight seeking a haven of peace.
This included a month-old baby girl called Hope – born the day the Russian invasion began – her mother and her teenage brother.
After dropping off supplies at the border relief center, which will be delivered to Ukraine, the group had to look for a child’s car seat in order to bring Hope to their hotel base in Krakow.
A solo baby seat has been identified along “The Passage” – the route by which refugees arrive in Poland – under the tent of a women’s charity called United Sikhs.
The group then had to ferry eight Ukrainians, the family and two others, on a late night three-hour trip to the hotel headquarters in blizzard conditions.
Baby Hope is now one of a dozen Ukrainians staying at the hotel as the group works with them to help them reach their next destination.
Adam, 43, told me, “What happened hasn’t really been understood yet. I’m still numb to what I see on a daily basis and I don’t think it will be until I’m home with the family that I can process and reflect on what happened.
Conditions at the Medyka crossing point deteriorated rapidly on Thursday, making life even more difficult for those fleeing their homeland.
Reports say the nearby relocation center in the town of Przemaslaw, where refugees are sleeping on cots in a former Tesco supermarket, is struggling to cope.
Families, mostly women and children, have two days to stay at the center before being transferred.
However, I have been told by charities that due to visa delays and the increasing number of people crossing the border, they are running out of alternative accommodation options.
Earlier this week I spoke of growing frustration at the apparent lack of support and guidance for the volunteers who deal with the UK desk at the relocation center and try to process visas for those who already have sponsors at the UK.
They explained how other countries were processing hundreds a day, while delays to Britain’s Homes for Ukraine scheme meant the UK had not issued any.
When I last checked with the charity Love Bristol, they told me that three had been successfully dealt with, but over 100 were still unresolved.
Meanwhile, they are increasingly unhappy with the Interior Ministry’s lack of representation on the ground in Poland itself.
A volunteer told me, “I didn’t expect to come here and run the show. Our volunteers process forms every day and then go to sleep in a partly built house because they don’t want to waste our money. They are increasingly tired and tired.
I have contacted all MPs for Norfolk and Waveney about this, as well as the Home Office. On Friday afternoon, only Clive Lewis and Richard Bacon responded.
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Three weeks and the mission is taking its toll.
Adam Hale-Sutton of Little Melton has been helping refugees for three weeks now with little respite other than brief trips home to see his wife and two children.
He decided to stay here for potentially another two weeks in hopes of helping as many Ukrainians as possible on their journey to safety.
After five days I feel tired, emotional and sometimes completely overwhelmed by the magnitude of it all – I can only imagine how he must feel.
He said to me: “It’s hard, the days are very long, you come home late and you have to leave early, there isn’t much rest.
“But I know how lucky I am to have my home life and a safe family and I just want to help as many people as possible.”
Adam, who works in disaster recovery and got a sabbatical from his employer, Belfour, says he’s also lucky to have the unwavering support of his family back home.
Nevertheless, the stress and strain of what he is doing will sometimes have obvious consequences.
Having young children himself, he says this is amplified when the group is called in to help youngsters, such as little Jan, three, and Hope, one month, who are both currently safe in a room at our hotel. fortune in Krakow. HQ.
Add to that the fact that he financially arranges hotels, food, taxis, gas and more – and no real idea when his GoFundMe page will pay – and he deserves the utmost admiration of anyone who reads his journey.
I consider part of my role on this journey to be there for Adam, if possible, to make sure he doesn’t fall.
Sometimes it’s been a late night beer, other times an ear to listen to her words of passion – and more often than not a huge man hug, which soon sorts it all out.
I’m leaving on Saturday evening and, all going well, Adam has arranged for four other people from Norfolk to come and assist his mission from Monday.
In this moment, they will feel the same nerves and concern as I did last week.
They will wonder if what they are doing is right and maybe even consider changing their minds.
I hope they stay on track because Adam will need them and I know from experience that they will soon realize they are doing exactly the right thing.
You can support Adam here.