MZF 2936

Kevin Dabrowski: A Helping Hand

Over 1,500 miles away from Edinburgh an incredible effort is being made at the Polish-Ukraine border to help hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees flee their homes in search of safety.

Across the world, there have been countless acts of kindness with messages of support, food and aid delivers, parcels and packages being boxed off and sent to those who need it most.

Hibernian goalkeeper, Kevin Dabrowski, has been inspired by the work of various groups and individuals and he went to lend a hand at one local Ukrainian Community Centre in Edinburgh.

Growing up in Poznan, Kevin’s family are safe in the western fringes of Poland, but the events have massively affected the young goalkeeper who feels compelled to watch the news every day to see what’s happening near his home nation.

What brings the devastation even closer to him is that he has friends on the other side of the country. Friends that are helping people flee and friends that know missiles have landed just 80km away from the border.

As more than half a million refugees have been taken in by warm-hearted Polish people, he feels duty-bound to help in any way he can, even though he’s thousands of miles away.

In an attempt to do that, he spent time supporting the Edinburgh Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain (Edinburgh – AUGB). The 23-year-old travelled to their Newbridge storage centre, which was filled with boxes and boxes of food and supplies to send to the border.

“What’s happening in Ukraine is just unthinkable,” said Kevin as he walked into the huge container. “People are having to fight for their country, having to leave their homes, left scared and not knowing that they will come back to. I can’t imagine how tough it is.”

“All of this is happening right in our world, right next to my country (Poland) and it’s just awful.

“There is a huge effort in Poland right now to help people from Ukraine and that makes me proud. I am obviously so far away right now, but want to help in some way, which is why I’ve come to this centre in Edinburgh.

“Knowing that there would be a possibility to provide some products, some clothes for those people in need, I just wanted to help.

“Obviously, it's not like it's the biggest thing, but if I could slightly help out, then that means a lot to me because right now, what's happening for them, I can't imagine how scared they are, because that should never happen.

“We live in the 21st century, so right now the situation is, for me, disgusting and unacceptable. So, I hope that those small things which we can do here in Scotland will show hope for Ukrainian people that everyone is with them, not only in Poland, but everyone from all over the world.”

What really touched Kevin was the support shown by children at a local school. He was handed an envelope full of letters showing love and kindness to Ukrainians as they try and get through a time many considered as unthinkable.

“It's heart-breaking,” said the youngster who started to well up looking at letter that were decorated in blue and yellow and donned messages of support in Ukrainian.

“The letters are just amazing, even those kids at a small age, they are aware of this situation and are wanting to help in some way.

“I feel for those children who are trying to understand how this has happened and for the kids in Ukraine who actually have to experience this.”

And as he unloaded lorries, read letters, he was surrounded by volunteers that had their own stories. Closely working alongside a woman called Nadia Schofield, Kevin spent time chatting to her about Poland and her home nation. They shared fond memories of visiting the nation, before she explained why she was showing her support. It was her story that really cut deep.

“My cousin fled from Kiev with her two children, but her husband had to go back and join the Territorial Army,” she said before making a public plea on BBC Scotland for a bullet proof vest.

If the severity of the war hadn’t hit home before, it certainly did then for Kevin who was left speechless – a jeweller fighting in Kiev for his country.

“It's been very emotional” said Nadia, who now resides in Edinburgh. “We just want to be able to do something here for all our fellow Ukrainians back home.”

And it’s not just Nadia that’s been showing support, the AUGB has been completely overwhelmed as donations flew in not only from Edinburgh and its surrounding areas, but the whole of Scotland. A city, a nation, and a country united.

“It's just incredible, I'm kind of surprised about how organised everything is, how people start working together. We've shown that in those situations, that it unites us and make us stronger.

“We are very privileged to live in peace right now, so I’m very happy that so many people want to help.”

Constantly in contact with his family and friends at how Kevin admits that it’s difficult to describe how proud he is of the effort that’s being made.

“Kevin also has the connection because his family, he's from Poland, so he's emotionally attached to this as well,” said Nadia. “It's just been lovely to have him here to give us all a bit of support.”

One thing that’s certain is the help and support of Kevin, who came on his own accord, brought a smile to the volunteers who donned ‘I stand with Ukraine’ t-shirts and badges, in what is a very difficult situation for everyone.

The volunteers, Kevin, and everyone alike will continue to watch the news and look on social media with bated breath in the hope that all the fighting and destruction will come to an end.

We Stand With Ukraine.