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'It's unbelievably heart-wrenching' | Helping Ukraine during its darkest days

Nick Krejchi, who grew up in Temple and graduated from Belton High in 2010, is volunteering with an organization called the Warsaw Coordination Center for Ukraine

WARSAW, Poland — As the war in Ukraine continues and refugees flee their homeland, Nick Krejchi is still trying to process all he saw during a recent trip across the border from Warsaw, Poland into the war torn country.

"Honestly, it's a bit difficult to express with words," Krejchi said when asked what it's like there and what he's seen. "I wish that I could show you pictures or video because as you cross over the Ukrainian border from Poland everything looks normal."

Krejchi said you go through your stereotypical border checkpoints but said it's a different scene coming back and crossing over the Poland border. The devastation of families being separated is hard to watch.

"To see the faces of people as they say goodbye to their loved ones and had no idea if they would see them again and then these women would have to, sort of, put their heads down and press forward, pick up their children and to carry their children across the border and are confused as to why their leaving their father behind, is unbelievably heart wrenching," he said.

Krejchi grew up in Temple and graduated from Belton High School in 2010 and said previous trips to Ukraine as a teenager and the connections he made there helped steer his path back to help now.

Helping people and working in the medical field is a way of life for Krejchi, he worked as a flight paramedic for several years, and is now in school pursuing his doctoral degree in medicine.

"I was connected with this organization as a result of prior connection to people in Ukraine who are part of this collaboration," Krejchi said. "I offered to bring a case of medical supplies on a pre-scheduled trip to Portugal where I had been invited to speak at the UNESCO World bioethics conference."

Krejchi said he rerouted is return flight through Warsaw and was quickly asked to take part in a logistics role for the Warsaw Coordination Center for Ukraine since he speaks English.

WCCUA was founded by a collaboration project between Polish, Ukrainian, and US churches and is working to bring food and supplies into the southern portion of the Kyiv Oblast in Ukraine.

"I immediately got thrust into a logistics role because people were needed that could communicate and speak English. People were needed that could help coordinate the acquisition of a supplies from manufactures," he explained.

Krejchi admitted there's anger associated with how he feels but said it's tempered by seeing those directly affected come together under the worst of times.

"Seeing them overwhelmingly have a positive attitude about being been able to get back and being able to help and doing whatever they can to help their countrymen who are still in Ukraine, that to me, it helps to, sort of, quell the anger a little bit," he explained.

When asked why he is doing this and what drives him to volunteer and enter into a country under attack, he said he prefers to do something rather than sit back and watch.

"Even though, no matter what I do, it may only be a drop in the ocean, right, but there's still something to that," Krejchi said. "I get to be a drop and that to me feels like a huge privilege even though it's hard work."

For those wanting to help but don't know how, Krejchi said he would like to see people find an organization that lines up with their goals and support them any way that you can. He said, too, language speakers are sorely needed, so if you can provide that, it could go a long way in helping make difference.

"If you want to make sure that food gets into the hungry mouths of Ukrainians' who need it, there are organizations who can help with that, our organization is one of them," he explained. "If you have a set of skills you think would be helpful, please reach out."

In the midst of a storm in the shadow of war, Krejchi's hope for country fighting for survival is for a future brighter than the days they used to know before Russia invaded a month ago.

"I think the best thing I can hope for These people will be restored to their families, their family units will be restored, and they'll be able to go home to the places they call home, and they can rebuild a country they've spent their lives living in," he said.

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