As the Russian bombardment of Ukraine continues, former Ripon Grammar School student Lewis Edwards and his partner Tanya Bogdanovska are safe in Slovakia, but constantly thinking about family and friends facing the horror of war.
Lewis, whose family live in Ripon, has been providing regular updates, along with the photographs seen here.
He told the Stray Ferret, this morning:
“Tanya spent the night talking with friends online, while they hid in stairwells during non-stop rocket attacks.
“She has been telling them that they will survive and asking them not to lose hope, but what do you say when someone tells you they don’t want to die like this? They are young, they are scared and they don’t know what to do.”
With the worsening situation, the urgency of Ukrain’s plea for help increases by the minute and for Tanya it is a personal plea, because she comes from Zaporhisia, which has been under heavy attack for days.
The Shelter in Slovakia
While she and Lewis can only add their voices to the world-wide call for the military assistance that Ukrain needs, they and a growing group of friends are preparing to provide practical, on the ground support for fleeing refugees through a shelter in Slovakia.
This will provide food, rest, the opportunity to bathe and obtain essential items such as sanitary products for women and nappies. The shelter will also have private areas where the refugees can make calls to loved ones back in Ukraine.
The plans for creating the shelter are taking shape and in Ripon, a Go Fund Me page set up on Sunday by Lewis’s family is steadily receiving donations from the local community.
Lewis’s mother, Ali, said:
“We would like to thank all those who have made donations and ask those who haven’t so far, if they will help support the people of Ukraine in what ever way they can.”
The shelter will give respite for traumatised Ukrainian refugees before they make onward journeys.
Final destinations are currently unknown to the fleeing women, children and men over 60, who left their homeland with hastily-packed suitcases, back packs and carrier bags.
The majority had to bid farewell to loved ones, including husbands, partners, brothers and uncles aged between 18 and 60, who stayed behind to fight for their country.
This is happening city by city and street by street, as Ukrainian soldiers, along with civilians armed with Molotov cocktails and guns provided by allies, continue their desperate struggle against Russia’s military might.
“The current situation is absolutely dire, but we hope that we can provide some light at the end of the tunnel.
“Our friends, a group made up of Ukrainians and foreigners ,are working together now to try and do what we can.”
The collective, including teachers like Lewis and Tanya, who met at Point Camp (a children’s summer camp in Ukraine) come from a number of European countries.