COLUMBIANA, Ohio (WKBN) — Lisa Long of the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation spoke to about 20 people at Midway Mennonite Church in Columbiana on Sunday.
She gave her firsthand experience of what happened during her time volunteering at the Poland-Ukraine border.
She first flew into Warsaw and her first experience with refugees came about 20 minutes outside the city inside of hangars.
“So think of the Covelli Centre but with no actual electric lights at all,” Long said.
The only lighting came from sky lights, when the sun was up, with makeshift, cots, beds and showers.
Inside were people lining up at a wall of flags from other countries.
“Where do I want to go and you would see the flags of different countries that might be able to help you,” Long said.
Afterwards, it took them six hours to drive from Warsaw to the border, where there were refugees, doctors, volunteers and others.
But she describes it as so quiet, you can hear a pin drop.
Watch the video below for Long’s full account of her time in Ukraine.
“As a mother myself, I’m bringing my children and whatever I can fit across the border. I think I would be at a loss for words,” Long said.
Even driving, it took days for refugees to get to the border — and many of them couldn’t get out right away.
“A lot of the refugees we spoke to had two, three weeks in their basements or bomb shelters hiding from the war,” Long said.
Once they made it to the border, they had to wait 72 hours in the cold before they could get in.
“It was just surely the amount of people waiting to get across the border. Since the end of February, Poland alone has seen 2.5 million people come across the border,” Long said.
There are only about eight checkpoints into the country, with another shocking sight at the border as they were flying back to Warsaw.
“You saw the missile defense system, you saw everything pointed towards the sky,” Long said.
Preparing in case something was to come into Poland.
While long was over there, she heard many stories but two she brought up were from two women.
Lily, who has two children and is a vascular surgeon and told she only had a little time to escape and grab what she could.
“So she said, ‘I have two hands, I have two daughters. I grabbed my two daughter’s hands and we got into our car and we drove as fast as we could,'” Long said.
The other woman, Bella, who is in her late 80s and wheelchair bound — but it isn’t the first time she had to flee Ukraine.
“She remembers back in WWII when Odessa was being invaded from the sea. She remembers those missiles, those launches, coming from the sea,” Long said.