While Jan “Sully” Heřmánek, one of the heads of Team4Ukraine, describes to me what they brought after the exhausting non-stop drive from the Czech Republic to the Donbass, two other members of the Czech team as well as the baker and pastor Oleg Tkachenko and his adjunct Mr. Ihor were loading the aid into an armored van and we set off to Avdijivka.
Listen to the report of Martin Dorázin, correspondent of the Czech Radio in Ukraine.
A very dangerous section awaits us between the northern and southern flanks of the Russian encirclement of Avdijivka, and therefore we must choose the safest possible route.
We passed one of the villages before Avdijivka. She was very shot up, much more so than the two or three weeks ago when we passed through. The field of possibilities for driving is constantly narrowing. Even now we had to choose a safer route than the shortest one.
We are going to Avdijivka with humanitarian aid, possibly for the last time. We may not succeed next time.
Igor, who is local and recently evacuated, and I are looking for a house where no humanitarian aid goes. There are about twenty people living in the basement there who need a generator.
Mrs. Varja comes out of the cellar and does not want to leave. Oleg still wants to take a picture of us. It’s not very pleasant to stay here, but it’s quiet now. The last thing heard was continuous gunfire.
Mrs. Varja says they have everything except drinking water. She’s so glad we unloaded a few canisters here. Although they have a well here, the water from it is not drinkable.
Canisters are a rare commodity, especially last year there were few of them, now it is better, Oleg recalls.
Igor brought a samovar from his apartment. Now it still runs for the microwave.
Two weeks ago, a rocket flew into Ihor’s house. The woman was thrown from the fifth floor, broke her arm, but survived. Mother-in-law is still somewhere under the rubble, Ihor shows me.
The woman was looking for a signal on the fifth floor, because sometimes it is possible to make a phone call there.
Station of Unbreakability
After several similar stops among the ruins of apartment buildings, we arrive at the destination of our journey: the underground Station of Invincibility, which offers help to the remaining residents of Avdijivka. We were welcomed here by its manager, Mrs. Aňa.
The indomitable station in Avdijivka ran out of gas and gasoline. We have to pay for it out of our own money, the locals say
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He explains that the station is officially closed due to the fighting. People still come here for food and to eat. They don’t have the heart to refuse them.
“We left here the power plant, over 250 non-perishable meals, canisters of diesel, wiring for the power plant and medicine worth 35,000 crowns to survive the winter. Also flashlights or power banks,” explains the head of Team4Ukraine.
He adds that he has already gotten used to the destroyed cities in Ukraine in a certain sense. “People are hiding in the basement. Those who don’t want to leave try to survive. Those who can try to help them, and the soldiers try to protect and keep the Russians as far away from them as possible,” he says.
In the basement of the Invincibility Station, we meet a unit of White Angels – these are police officers who are supposed to evacuate civilians from the most endangered places. According to police estimates, almost 1,600 residents remain in Avdijivka.
After handing over the humanitarian aid, we still have to go back, past the coke plant and the Russian lines.
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