Ilkeston woman returns from second humanitarian trip to Ukraine

Published on: Thursday, 23rd June 2022

An Ilkeston woman has returned from her second week-long visit to Ukraine to help with the humanitarian effort. 

31-year old Nikki Dunbar took annual leave from a marketing manager role to help in both Poland and Ukraine following the invasion of Russian troops.

Having visited the 'Volunteering in Ukraine' Facebook page, she originally flew out from Manchester in mid-April, and met up with two nurses from the city, landing in Rzeszow Airport from where they travelled to help sort clothes, spent time playing games with children and assisted refugees with border crossings.

She soon decided that she would return to help again in June and has just returned from another week of volunteering.

Nikki said that, back in April, it was mostly about helping people to leave the war-torn country, but now, she says that has shifted and a lot of people are already returning to Ukraine: “They obviously want it over, they just want peace.  I was just sat outside one night, having a drink with a couple, and all you could hear was the crickets in the grass because I was in the middle of nowhere, and they said "This is what Ukraine should be - peace"".

For her most recent trip, Nikki said that, this time, things are different: "The main focus was helping refugees get from Ukraine into Poland, across the border, through the little charity village, and over to the humanitarian centre before they went into Europe, but that was almost deserted this time, so there has been a huge shift in people that are leaving the country. It now seems that a lot of people are going back rather than leaving."

She used the time in between to raise funds before heading back out to work with an organisation that provides support to front line military and civilians stuck in target zones. Nikki said that, at times, it was very unnerving.  Nikki added: “You don’t really know because you just get the air alarms that obviously warn that something is potentially incoming.  Sometimes, it is a false alarm, sometimes the Ukranian Air Defences do manage to intercept them, but you just don't really know, so, it is unnerving - yes.".

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