A Spanish Caravan of Strangers Drives Donated Vans to Rescue Ukrainian Refugees

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Currents News Staff

Gloria wanted to go to Poland to help Ukrainian refugees escape to Spain to live with host families in different cities in the country. But she needed a van. So she posted an ad on Instagram.

“Out of nowhere, a woman I didn’t know in Valladolid had a van, and I said, ‘well, great.’ I called her and said ‘thank you very much.’ I was a bit uneasy thinking about how a random person was going to let me use her van and put 6000 kilometers on it,” said Gloria. “But she wanted to help and she wasn’t able to go, so she let me use the van.”

She posted another ad on social media to see if others wanted to use their vans to help. In the end, nine more vans signed up. Three from Barcelona, three from Madrid, and three from Asturias.

Through Facebook, she contacted a volunteer in Poland who was able to help her with the logistics of the trip.

“So I was in contact with him and he kept telling me, for example, that we needed people in Barcelona to stay at the border,” Gloria said. “Now that the border is flooded, some should stay and help in Krakow. I kept in contact with all these people and we helped each other.”

Each van would go to the border that needed them most and pick up refugees. On their way back to Spain, they would stop in hotels to sleep and eat – and nobody charged them to pay for anything.

Gloria says this trip left a deep impression on her. She says there was a mix of funny and shocking moments. Like when a Ukrainian girl wouldn’t get out of the car to go to her new home in Spain.

“When we told her that this was her home and that the house was super cool, she suddenly told us that she didn’t want to stay,” Gloria said. “She didn’t want to get out of the car because she had not faced the reality that she had to go to move into another house. The entire trip – the train and car rides – she didn’t seem to be in shock.

“But then all of a sudden, when we got to the house, she didn’t want to stay; she didn’t want to get out of the car. We all got really sad because you realize how difficult it must be for these people to have to leave everything with just the clothes on their backs.”

Gloria and her nine vans were able to bring 65 Ukrainians out of the country to safety, showcasing the beauty of solidarity in action.