4/13 to 4/14 Recap
Ternopil Rescue Project
35 refugees, identified by Team Alberto and the Mayor of Ternopil to be at-risk people without the means to evacuate without support, departed by bus from Ternopil, Ukraine on 4/13 and arrived at the Ukraine Arrival Center (UAC) in Vienna, Austria on 4/14. The bus had one volunteer from Ternopil, Olga, who made the entire journey. VM4U staff, Sasha, VM4U Human Trafficking Safeguards Program Manager, and Sventana, Mission Leader, joined the bus at the Polish-Ukrainian border. A medic from the First Aid First Hand organisation was planned to also join the bus at the border, however, the primary and backup medics both got COVID and were unable to participate or be replaced.
The bus ride was full of challenges. There were delays at the Korczowa border crossing of approximately 6 hours. The VM4U team rendezvoused with the bus at Hotel Korczowa, where Sventlana donated dinner at Hotel Korczowa for all the passengers. Upon returning to the road, a medical emergency on the bus required the bus to detour to the Korczowa refugee center for medical support. This was able to be resolved, permitting that passenger to continue on the journey. A technical issue on the bus near Brno resulted in further delay. But after about 24 hours, the bus did arrive at the UAC in Vienna.
David, VM4U Accommodations Program Manager, and several members from Team Alberto, Elisabetta, Anya, Lillia, and Livia, were present at the UAC to greet the bus passengers and ensure their deliverance to their long term accommodations.
Unfortunately, the UAC was unable to organise long term accommodations in Vienna and nearly all passengers were subsequently bussed to the Mistelbach Refugee Center in Lower Austria where long term accommodations were provided. Thus, the UAC was an unnecessary detour for our passengers. One elder couple, one with cancer and the other with a heart problem, remain in Vienna, where they have access to the city’s medical facilities.
The VM4U Human Trafficking Safeguards Program showed value. Prior to bus departure, a follow up between Team Alberto and VM4U occurred after a minor travelling without their parents was detected. This minor was a 17 year old male which was travelling with his Aunt. This was managed and required an exchange of phone calls and emails with the Ukrainian Embassy in Vienna once this family arrived at the UAC.
The VM4U Command Center, comprised of Elli, Julia, Jon, Elvis, and Marina, showed value. The van and bus were tracked in real time. The team detected air raid sirens in Ternopil shortly after the bus departure from Ternopil and monitored the safety of the bus route during its journey.
The VM4U Refugee Helpline was monitored by Irina, VM4U Refugee Welfare Manager, during and after the bus operation. Business cards with the VM4U Helpline phone number and email were distributed to the passengers on the bus. In the event that their long term accommodation does not work out, VM4U is only one phone call away.
Julie, VM4U Deputy Director of Operations and Project Manager for the Ternopil Rescue Project, monitoring, communicated, and coordinated the mission personnel and resources, continuously, for over 24 hours. This is in addition to other active missions.
The rescue of these people was only possible through Alberto, his presence on the ground in Ternopil, and his coordination with the Ternopil Mayor, Serhiy Nadal, and his commitment to the people of Ukraine.
Thanks to everyone here that made the Ternopil Rescue Project possible.
This bus operation was fully funded by Ryan Little.
On 4/13, a passenger van team, Vins and Eric, departed Vienna on a personnel transport, supply, and refugee retrieval mission to Korczowa, Poland. The van transported the VM4U Ternopil Rescue Project bus team, Sventlana and Sasha, to Hotel Korczowa where they were dropped off and waited for the bus from Ternopil to cross the border. The van team continued to deliver dental supplies, food, and hygiene, to a storage location in Korczowa for later transport into Ukraine.
A miscommunication occurred between the van drivers and the storage location point-of-contact, and resulted in the supplies being temporarily delivered to the wrong destination. The mistake was detected, the supplies were recovered and transported to the correction location. The van team continued to the Przemysl, Poland Refugee Center to where they made a pre-arranged picked an elder couple and transported them to the Messe Wien Refugee Center in Vienna. The elder couple plan to be at Messe Wien until their Canadian visa arrives.