“We have enough toys at the moment, but if someone wants it, plush toys will always make children happy,” says Iveta Skálová, to whom no one will say otherwise than Ivka.
Gateway to Europe for Ukrainians, stay overnight at Bohumín Station
Last summer, she helped out as a volunteer in tornado-affected areas of South Moravia, and when war broke out in Ukraine, she didn’t hesitate for a minute. “Because people from the volunteer organization Železnice, which organizes humanitarian trains to Ukraine, and who work here, I have been here too. Since February 26. Now only a few days in the evening,” explains Ivka, who coordinates help for those in need at the station.
I’m here because you need help, said Ivka
He admits that after three weeks of almost uninterrupted operation with a minimum of sleep, he already feels it. “In the morning, I go home to sleep for a while, then I go to work. In recent days, I sleep about two hours a day,” he admits. “Some people ask me what I’m doing here, that I’m still working,” he smiles, adding that he definitely doesn’t use any support and narcotics.
Night train connections bring Ukrainian war refugees to the station on March 18, 2022 in Bohumín. Volunteer Iveta Skálová.
It is said that she does not resolve at all that she could enjoy the spring and rest after work. “When I see someone who needs help, they don’t give it to me. If I imagine the situation upside down, that I would be in such a situation, I will also be happy if someone helps me help,” he explains.
We are in the area of the former station restaurant, from which there is now an improvised buffet, dining room, rest room and children’s playroom in one.
First the anthem, then they went into the freezing water of the Žermanická dam, thus helping Ukraine
Outside in the waiting room, toiletries are arranged in a corner, next to children’s shoes and clothes, toys. There are blankets on the benches so people can sit warm, there are also blankets to cover. Other things like mats, sleeping bags and blankets are nearby in the warehouse. There are also strollers, which we need exceptionally, but they will not be in vain: a humanitarian train will take them to Ukraine with other things.
Bottled water, cookies, wafers, pates, fruit and fruit snacks are included in the food stock. Local volunteers from the Alma Mater association in Bohumín are preparing food parcels for the next trip. They have bread, pastries, salami, ham, cheese…
Fruits, wet wipes, baby waterers
Anything that can feed people traveling long distances for several days comes either from donations or from food banks. Oldřich Glebec, director of the Karviná branch of the Czech Red Cross, who also spends his last days here at the station almost nonstop, says that if anyone wants to bring food, they can. “But it’s best to make arrangements in advance either by phone, which can be found on the CRC Karviná website, or to come here, and we’ll tell them what they need most. The situation is constantly changing, sometimes it happens, other times it happens. In any case, we do not reject fruit – apples, bananas, tangerines. We offer many fruit snacks for children, called jupíky or cucky, as we call it Wet wipes, deodorants, shower gels are always suitable for hygienic needs,” calculates Oldřich Glebec.
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As well as those making sure there is food and drink, there are paramedics who admit there are days when their hands are full. “Some children are cold, the elderly are again dehydrated and tired. Even a gentleman collapsed and ended up in the hospital”, says a CRC employee, if not a nurse.
Kopytov volunteer firefighters are among those helping here. The volunteer army is also supplemented by police officers, employees of the Czech Railways, the ADRA organization and assistants from Železnice, as well as protective services.
Wardrobes, beds, refrigerators. The families of Ukrainians are also looking for all this
Many of them still use Russian words from memory, but nevertheless, translators from Ukrainian are especially suitable here, especially when busy connections arrive. About eight of them take turns here. Some have lived and worked in the city for years, like 20-year-old Ivan Polovka, who travels to Bohumín station from Ostrava, where he studies architecture. He comes from Transcarpathia and learned here that he could be useful from an acquaintance involved in the organization of humanitarian trips by train to Ukraine. Then he told me they needed a translator here, so we offered. “I’m here for the fifth time. I come here after school and after work, for night trains. So far I’m holding on, the fatigue isn’t so bad. Probably because we are young”, says Ivan with a smile.