Man helps bring comfort to refugees fleeing Ukraine.

The invasion of Ukraine has taken over the media globally and driven efforts to raise money and garner support for the people of Ukraine.

One man from western Canada is currently amidst the conflict. Terence Ballinger is originally from the UK – but has lived in Calgary for the last several years. Until a few days ago Ballinger and his wife Tatiana had been living in Kiev.

The couple was set to leave Kiev a few days earlier than they did  – they were hampered by the fact that  both of them contracted COVID-19

Upon recovering, they found their way out of Kiev, traveling to the small town of Berschad, which is about 3 hours away from the Moldova border.

When Ballinger and his wife arrived – they asked if there was anything they could do to help with the war effort. Food, shelter, and fuel – all of these were necessary things. Ballinger went into action.”I asked them how I could possibly help. They told me that they needed food in a desperate way. It turns out we are purchasing pigs from a local farmer now.” The Pigs are processed by locals and packed into jars with rice and spices. These are then pressure cooked and delivered to the areas they are most needed.

“These jars go out on a daily basis and right now we’re into this for 8 pigs since the start.”

The jars themselves are covered in messages from those who have prepared them.

Rations prepared by the people of Berschad

Pigs being prepared by the citizens of Berschad.
Photo Credit: Terrence Ballinger

“Dear Defenders thank you for protecting us. Please bring this jar back to me empty”

A message of thanks and a hope for a safe return.

Ballinger started a GoFundMe campaign to fund his helping of the efforts. The money is going to fuel and the costs of food. The campaign has collected  over $8000, taking donations from all over the world.

“People from England, Australia, Canada and the U.S have been donating to the fund.” He says.

The peace of the small town of Berschad is a far cry from what Terrence and Tatiana experienced in Kiev.

“We were originally supposed to go to Spain. All of those flights got cancelled and so we really needed to find another way out of the country”

Ballinger says he was contacted by the Canadian consulate and informed that they should be trying to get out of Kiev right away. The couple got sick with COVID-19 and were stuck in Kiev for 7 extra days. Then – the bombing started.

“When the bombs hit you could feel pressure on the windows. We realized we had to get out of there. How are we going to do this?.”

Ballinger and his wife were able to find a ride with a woman who was traveling towards Berschad, where Tatiana’s family is living.

The community is seeing an influx of Ukrainian refugees fleeing violence and trying to make there way into the neighboring country of Moldova. Every night a new group of refugees comes through the school in the community. Roughly 120 people every night. 120  people being given a warm place to stay, a meal and a shower.

Ukrainian children sleeping at the school in Berschad. Photo Credit: Terrence Ballinger

The town of Berschad has checkpoints established all around it. You can’t come and go without someone checking for documentation to make sure you’re a member of the community or a refugee.

“The community is strong, and supportive. They have the attitude that they’re going to win this war. I think they will,” says Ballinger.

Hatred for the Russians he says – is palpable. “They don’t like the Russians here. That level of hatred is growing on a daily basis. I can see it in the people of the community and hear it in conversations we’re having.”

For Ballinger and his wife there are daily reminders of the conflict in the skies overhead.

“we hear sirens going off nightly. It’s happening more and more. Cruise missiles fly overhead every day. Two days ago, a  town about 100km away was bombed.”

You may donate to Ballinger’s campaign here.

 

 

More from Play92