It’s one thing to watch Ukrainian families say goodbye in videos, not knowing if they will ever see their loved ones again. It is another thing to witness it unfold in front of you. In this week’s episode of “Time to Head North,” we sit down with Christie Johnson. Christie is a former TV reporter who just returned to the Pacific Northwest after volunteering at the Polish/Ukrainian border. She went with NGO, Medair.
Christie said a lot of people in Ukraine didn’t think the invasion would actually happen. She spoke to many refugees at the Medyka crossing. This is what many of them told her, “We knew tanks were on border, we really thought it was posturing.” Christie says when Russia invaded, lives changed in an instant. Lives that resembled hers.
Christie talked about how the days and nights leading up to the invasion, it looked like a fairly common scene here in the United States. Women meeting friends for dinner and drinks, taking kids to soccer games, play dates. “That could have been you or me,” Christie told TNG’s Natasha Ryan. Now these women are among the more than three million displaced Ukrainians.
It’s the path to get to the border that Christie still can’t wrap her head around. She and her husband were asked to come over and help document this time in history for Medair. Without hesitation, they flew over within a week. Christie talks about what it felt like watching women with kids, pets, bags in tow, and the elderly, taking their places in line. Her empathy for fellow moms as they told her about their journeys to get there took over. The tales of scared children on packed trained rides to get to Lviv. “Riding 24 hours in pitch black because trains can’t have lights on because then they become targets.” Once they arrived in Lviv, they then walked nearly 70 miles in freezing conditions to get to the border crossing. Then they got in the line that can be 30 hours long to enter Poland, where humanitarian aid is waiting for them. The Polish people, who were unprepared to become the relief now have become humanitarian hubs. Relief once in Poland for Ukrainians…but then what?
This episode is full of emotion and some great stories around two young kids. Listen to the entire episode below. Also, be sure to check back on our website for more posts like this one.