A brave foodbank owner from Didsbury is gearing up to return to Ukraine for the FOURTH time in a month to give vital medical aid to innocent victims of war. She has become familiar with the sight of chaotic, over-run hospitals, running out of essential equipment and the staff to treat swathes of patients.
And over at the border, she has witnessed endless lines of exhausted mothers, clutching onto their children’s hands and dragging worn suitcases behind them, unsure of their final destination. Jen Savaris, who runs Perry’s food bank in East Didsbury, will again embark on the perilous journey to Medyka in Poland, close to the border with Ukraine, with more vital aid later this month.
It is the fourth time she has visited the boundary, which lines its neighboring war-torn country to help the desperate families left with nothing but the items on their backs. She will also be on hand to transport medical supplies from Poland to hospitals in Lviv through her fundraising efforts.
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During her travels, she has also comforted young children left without their parents and distributed hot meals and drinks to those staying in registration centers across the border, as they desperately scramble to figure out their next steps. Jen first flew to Poland last month, March 8, with suitcases brimming with 160kg of supplies, including medical supplies, nappies and other toiletries.
Now, Jen will be returning to Medyka on April 22, to help support ‘Ukraine We are Here’, a team of volunteer medics from Norway and Sweden that she stumbled across on her first trip out. In her efforts, she has already sent £20,000 worth of medical and essential aid and raised £5,000 to repair an ambulance that goes to Ukraine daily to pick up patients in dire need.
As well as lugging heavy medical supplies on and off an ambulance, Jen has driven a family for 11 hours to Gdansk in Poland, handed out warm food and drink to those who have traveled hundreds of miles to cross the border, and worked with charity Siobhan’s Trust.
Ahead of her fourth visit, Jen, who will be traveling this time with lifelong friend Michael, a trained ICU nurse, said: “Every time I am just horrified by how many families are still crossing the borders and leaving their entire life behind. The first two times I went, there were just thousands lining up and we spoke to them, gave them drinks and food and offered to help in any way we could.
“We have taken supplies over every time, and have raised money to be able to buy supplies for hospitals in Ukraine which are becoming overrun and struggling. At the hospital we visit in Lviv, they have moved all the patients downstairs from the upper floors in case it is bombed.
“I have been on the ambulances, driving for hours in queues to cross the border into Ukraine and heard the air raid sirens. It is really frightening for so many people so we just want to help in the best way we can.”
A clip shared previously to the Manchester Evening News shows friend Jamie and volunteer paramedic Didrik attempting to drive through gridlocked traffic from Poland into Ukraine as they rushed to Lviv to collect patients from a hospital left devastated by the ongoing invasion.
And on her last mercy mission, Jen stayed with an ill little girl, aged just three, in the back of a volunteer ambulance as she was being rushed to a children’s hospital in Poland for treatment.
“It is amazing to see how just speaking to these people brightens the spirits. We give sweets to the children and play games with them, and it’s like they forget everything that is going on,” Jen added.
“I have still seen hundreds of people clambering to get on coaches and trains, it is very much still going on with so many people leaving everything behind.
“Seeing dads say goodbye to their children and families is heartbreaking. I don’t think the UK is doing enough to help these families who have nowhere to go.” Jen is continuing to raise money with a new fundraiser for her fourth visit later this month.