On the run a stopover in Rheine

54 Menschen aus der Ostukraine im Gertrudenstift untergebracht und mit Lebensmitteln und Vorräten versorgt

RHEINE/LEIRIA. They had been on the road for days to reach Warsaw, 1300 kilometers away, from eastern Ukraine. 54 refugees from Ukraine who had one thing in common: they have relatives who live in Leiria. And the Ukrainians living in Rheine’s twin city had organized the flight for their relatives and kin together with Leiria’s city administration. In the night from last Saturday to Sunday, Rheine was the first intermediate destination. And most of them spent the night in a warm bed for the first time in many days – before they left yesterday at 7:30 a.m. for Bordeaux.

In a joint effort, the twinning association and the city of Rheine had organized the care of the refugees in Rheine, after the twin city of Leiria had asked for help and the possibility of a stopover in Rheine last Wednesday. The youngest refugees were two babies aged two months, and the oldest in the group was a 76-year-old woman. The group consisted exclusively of women and children, because the husbands, fathers, sons, friends had to stay in Ukraine to fight in the army against Putin’s war army.

The town twinning association is grateful that the Gertrudenstift immediately provided the rooms in its seminar building. The meals for the group were also organized by the staff of the Gertrudenstift. The twinning association packed individual bags for the refugees: provisions for the onward journey, hygiene articles, drinks, towels, coloring books and crayons for the children were some of the utensils that were given to the Ukrainians yesterday.

After breakfast, the refugees continued their journey to France and finally to Leiria.

After an eleven-hour journey from Warsaw to Rheine, the war refugees could see the strains they had endured for days when they arrived at around 10 p.m. on Saturday. Completely frightened children, tired and exhausted adults wanted only one thing: rest! And the night in the Gertrudenstift did everyone good, the Ukrainians said at breakfast. There was a hint of a smile on some of their faces before their eyes wandered off into the distance again.

Adelina, at two months old, is the youngest of the war victims. Early in life she has to endure so much suffering.

Die Helfer aus Leiria mussten rund 3300 Kilometer in ihrem Bus zurücklegen, bevor sie am Freitag Warschau erreichten. Drei Berufsfeuerwehrleute, die sich für diesen Einsatz verabschiedet hatten, und zwei Fahrer hatten sich auf den Weg gemacht. Sie berichteten von verstörenden Szenen in Warschau. Flüchtlinge hatten buchstäblich jeden ankommenden Bus gestürmt. Und es dauerte einige Zeit, bis die Gruppe Leiria zueinander fand.

“Spasiva” heard the people of Rhineland several times yesterday, when the group boarded the bus again at 7:30 am. And there were also tears of emotion. Where words failed, a hug expressed gratitude for the help. Help that was taken for granted by all involved – who were now indirectly coming into contact with the events of the war for the first time.

“I am so sorry to make this extra work for all of you in Rheine. But in hard times, we first remember the friends we know we can rely on,” Silvia Carreira, an employee of Leiria’s mayor Goncalo Lopes, had written in an email to the Rheine Town Twinning Association on Friday. There one sees this assistance as positive example of how European networks of partners can help fast and effectively. “Friends help friends” is the name of the fundraising campaign that the twinning association launched a week and a half ago. The money is to be used to help the Lithuanian twin town of Trakai organize aid for its Ukrainian twin towns of Luzk and Ivano-Frankovsk. A first shipment of medicines for the military hospital in Luzk has already been set in motion.

Mitarbeiterinnen und Mitarbeiter des Gertrudenstifts und die anderen Freiwilligen posierten am Ende der Veranstaltung für die Kamera.

The twinning association would like to thank all donors who have supported the campaign so far. It asks at the same time for further donations: IBAN DE 65 4035 0005 0000 0642 53 at the Stadtsparkasse Rheine, keyword “Spendenaktion Ukraine. Donation receipts will be issued upon request. Please indicate your address.