The night he got the last order at the party, Ivan GeshkoThe 29-year-old Ukrainian displayed the results of his search in Amazon and military stores in his bed. They waited to be packed in the bedroom flower bedspread black bulletproof vest, some gloves, some plastic knee pads and a thermal change of the same color.
He took a photo of the ensemble to let his father know, and everything was neatly wrapped. First time Iván, a waiter at family restaurants in eastern Madrid defense material warehouse to the war in Ukraine.
It was the beginning of what happened a passionate, huge and discreet collection of aid. The first to receive this post was his father, Vitaliy, a 59-year-old immigrant and physical education teacher. Russian armor seeking Kiev, He had decided to leave Madrid to enlist in the army against the occupation. In March, when the waistcoat and elbow pads he did not have arrived, Vitaliy sent his son a photograph of the gift dressed; she looks happy.
On the morning of February 24, Roman Zaitev34 years old, had a moment of shock at home, on the outskirts of Madrid. Vasili, his 58-year-old electrician father, woke him up at dawn with a nervous voice: “Son, what we expected has happened: The war started.”
Vasily Zaitsev asked Norman for a plane ticket to Krakow. Forty-eight hours later, he was in the woods out front with a Kalashnikov on his shoulder.
of these two sons of warriors One of the most important chains of solidarity with the most tortured lands of Europe was born. Little by little, they are adding people to United with Ukraine, an NGO that coordinates 150 aid shipments in vans, trucks and trains in a month. This means 2,831 pallets, more than 687 tons of diapersBatteries, bandages, food, medicine, soap… and not just that.
stop a russian bullet
In an office on the quayside of Madrid’s massive Isabel Zendal Hospital, Roman attacks with his palm a military green helmet. “It’s Kevlar. It can stop a Russian bullet. They’re donated to us by veterans from everywhere,” he says. .
This is the most exclusive content of the pallets lined up in the warehouses, lots of donations from families, municipalities, companies, Community of Madrid, the Ukrainian embassy, the Comfersa railway company and the TXT carrier… And more: Roman, mobile phones 200 companies helping them.
Now there are 25 more trucks and they are looking for help as it costs to put a truck in Ukraine 3.500 euro diesel and other expenses, at the expense of those wartimes.
On the pallets are real treasures for the inhabitants of a bombed-out city: rechargeable batteries, energy bars, cans of blessed coffee, 1-7.3 calorie battle rations, analgesics, useful for stopping bleeding… and many hygiene products. “Soap is important,” says Roman. The people there need everything: when they blow up your house, you have absolutely nothing; You don’t have a pillow, you don’t have glasses, you don’t have a spoon, you don’t have a toothbrush…”.
This nervous executive forgot the number of nights he never slept. Resigned from his position as logistics manager Some supermarkets as United With Ukraine has grown. “When my father left, I thought about how I could help and I’m thinking of doing what I know,” she says.
Whenever his partner Iván can get away from the bar, he goes to the Isabel Zendal store, working with other friends from the Ukrainian community in a discreet swarm of food, medicine, and supplies.
Ivan searches the computer The price of the DJI Mavic 3. So a drone 15 kilometers of autonomy and 46 minutes of flight. His father didn’t ask anything. He said he was fine. One day, after Vitaliy insisted so hard not to deprive himself of asking for what he needed, he decided to say to him: “Son, send me a bulletproof vest If you find it”. And this, in a way, is the spirit of article III of the charter of their association: “The purchase and dispatch of security, protection and defense equipment to the Ukrainian army”.
At one point on the Polish border, minibuses hired by Roman and his men are circulating word-of-mouth in minibuses that will enter the battlefield. collected load angry and active Ukrainian community It will spread throughout the country in a dangerous capillary in Spain. They never go by convoy but “spider” to avoid the Russian air search, Roman explains.
Train wagons sent from this corner of Europe reached the smashed Kherson, and boxes packed in Madrid, Malaga, Zaragoza, Almeria… were opened in Odessa, Kharkiv and Bucha. In that martyred city, the authorities returned some of the cargo: diapers and jars. “There are no children here: they either died or left”, they explained to them.
new life on the way
For a year, Oleksandr, a volunteer driver, has kept as a relic on his cell phone the video the City Council had recorded in the small park Arco Iris. Mariuopol He had tidied up at the door of the Dramatic Theatre.
It was a happy day. In the footage, Violeta glides over him. skate in front of the flower beds, where the neighbors who read “AETN” (Children) in Cyrillic letters visible from the air are looking in vain for mercy in the missiles.
Where Oleksandr and his daughter were walking, on March 16 one bombardment killed 300 persons.
Oleksandr, a Donbassian from Donetsk, in this part of the pixels of his mobile photo gallery,spend the spring in peace their lives. Last Monday, he showed it to his fellow traveler Vitali, on the way to Ukraine, as they were leaving the Zendal hospital and joining other caravans that left Zaragoza the next night.
Oleksandr’s happy video contrasts sharply with the blackened skeleton of Mariupol, the dreary landfill now occupied by Russian troops. The death, decay and ossification of a seaside city.
Trapped in a truck at 80 o’clock in Europe, Oleksandr begins to sing a popular folk tune: “Oh, the meadows / the red snowball bent / and our glorious Ukraine is sick…” singers jumped from the soldiers’ foot marches to the virality of social networks.
As the truck crosses the lanes of the old continent, signs showing different counties and towns in different languages of Europe follow each other over the shoulder. And Oleksandr, passing from Latin to Germanic and from this to Slavic, leaves behind his calm and prosperous past. “I had a different life, but everything changed on February 24,” she says sadly. In his own account, he speaks of “orcs”, not of Russians. a) Yes, “Orcs entered my village and killed many people. They looted everything they could get, the washing machines…even the floorboards they took.”
Oleksandr lived for a good 14 years in Volnovakha, a residential town on the outskirts of Mariupol. There used to be a butcher shop, now it’s raided. And he says, “a chalet that I built myself and where I could only live for three years.”
His wife and daughter are now part of the refugee flood. And he drives, remembering the games he played with the golden retriever, the walks he had with Violeta, the family dinners, the bike ride along the beach… All of this was left in the rubble on the Sea of Azov.
“it’s Putin Hitler of the 21st century, but with a nuclear bomb – report while driving. Russia is blackmailing the world… This war is meaningless. People die without feeling…”
Nykola, a Ukrainian truck driver who has lived in Spain for 13 years, watches another five-axle truck heading north with two Ukrainian drivers at the quayside of Isabel Zendal. One is driving while the other is resting; More than 3,000 kilometers.
Three thousand three hundred and ninety-nine marched Nykola in peacetime, s.Excursions to us at his parents’ house in Ternopol. This figure is well known because, as he left his home on the outskirts of Madrid, he painstakingly set the odometer of his car to zero to see exactly how far one end of his life was from the other.
Nykola has war-torn siblings. The family does not want to give the name “for safety”. And that’s what characterizes this invasion: refugees and migrants don’t say exactly who they are because They fear that the enemy will listen and take revenge.
At the Cepsa gas station on the M40, where he stopped for a coffee one day, Nykola talks about geostrategy like many Ukrainians today. He fixes his blue gaze and asks: “This is a war of freedom. Why are there people who prefer us to give up, Shall we lower our hands?”
Leaving the cafeteria, this fifty-year-old Ternopol man shields himself in his jacket from the cold wind that has taken over the city and walks to his car amid the hustle and bustle of refueling vehicles, the drivers immersed in their daily business. They avoid paying the exorbitant price of their lives for gas. “Look, the Ukrainians are fighting now,” he says bitterly as he bids farewell. If Europe doesn’t help them, it will be your children who will have to fight later”.