It does very much seem the “luck of the draw” as to the experience of crossing the border. Aid worker Paul’s (AWP’s) previous experience was that avoiding the crossing at Krakovets’ was always preferable. Other crossings are far swifter and the officials at them have a more welcoming attitude towards aid. Nonetheless, buoyed by Daniel’s experience of a pretty smooth crossing yesterday (outbound at least and by local standards!) AWP gave Krakovets’ a go. A couple of hours later AWP and Sunny were through.

Sunny’s first look at her new homeland

Meanwhile we had been enjoying a relaxing early morning stroll around Kraków Old Town (it’s gorgeous, we really must return) then back to the hotel for breakfast and a taxi to the airport where we learnt that it’s really important to make sure that passports are stamped when entering the EU …

Back in Post #6 we commented on how smooth the process through customs had been to enter France. If only things had been a little less smooth our passports would have been stamped upon entering the EU as they should have been … Then the officious border guard (OBG) checking passports at Kraków airport would have proof that Eleanor had entered the EU legally. Ironically Daniel’s passport showed that he had entered Poland from Ukraine the previous day so there was no problem for him!

The OBG wanted to know: does Eleanor have a visa to stay in Poland for an extended duration? How and when had she entered? Where were the stamps? What proof do we have that we entered France together only three days previously? Where are our tickets?

Unfortunately we had no proof. The Eurotunnel ticket referenced the vehicle and not the people. Daniel started scrolling through the blog posts but even this didn’t satisfy the OBG. Thankfully a few minutes of circular conversation later the OBG became somewhat bored and relented. Blighty here we come!

Whilst we had been enjoying ourselves, Oleksandr had been putting his shoulder to the wheel, driving his fire engine straight through the night (“there is no time to spend the night” he wrote to us) in convoy with Cher to Odesa. Cher was then handed over to her new owners in Odesa and the new fire engine made a triumphant arrival …

Oleksandr announces that Odesa has a new fire engine!

One of the themes of this blog is turning out to be that one should never expect plans to remain as originally envisaged. Our story returns to the star of the piece – Sunny.

Very shortly after AWP sends the photo above of Sunny in Ukraine Aliya hears that a volunteer in Lviv has been taken very ill. He requires urgent evacuation to Poland for medical treatment. An ambulance is needed asap. A quick call to AWP and the plan to set off for Odesa is shelved. AWP and Sunny dash the 70 km to Lviv, unload Sunny, load the ailing volunteer and return to the border.

It is now 7 pm and at this point AWP encounters the bureaucracy with which we became familiar yesterday. Sunny has been formally exported to Ukraine. She has been taken on by a hospital near Odesa. She is not eligible for re-export to Poland. Medical support for the volunteer is a couple of hundred metres away but that few hundred meters take three hours to negotiate.

The skill set required by an aid worker is a clearly a broad one and includes diplomatic skills. Thankfully AWP is able to evacuate the volunteer who is handed over to the Polish medical professionals. Sunny’s first rescue mission is entirely unexpected but complete. She is already making a difference supporting the aid effort. To keep doing so she needs your support.

AWP turns back around and makes again for the border crossing and Ukraine. Somewhat smoother this time but the curfew prevents an immediate return to Lviv. Today will see Sunny re-stocked with the aid we brought out with us and then she can resume her efforts to fulfil her immediate objective of reaching the children’s hospital near Odesa.

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