The convoy of Latvian volunteers, escorted by the Mikolayiv police, carries 18 tonnes of aid. The biggest vehicle contains food donated by Latvian companies, sanitary goods, sweets, also gifts for children. Latvian residents and businesses also donated €8,000 to the convoy's fuel, and this money bought medicines for Ukrainians.
For safety reasons, in order not to stay long in the villages, volunteers fill the packages already in Mikolayiv to then deliver them to six villages in Kherson County.
It is the hardest in the warzone villages, where the roads are impossible to drive on. Ukrainian soldiers liberated the village from occupation forces late last year. The proximity of the front is lingering in the echo of gunfires.
“Look, there's a school. Destroyed. Everything is ruined. There was a nursery in the village. Also ruined. Culture House, too. Library. The village council alone has stayed,” says a villager.
“We have electricity. The Internet appeared today. There's no water. It's being delivered,” the local resident says.
An elderly couple live in a garage because the house is in ruins. “I had a workshop here. The car and the bike were here. There's nothing left. Everything was taken,” said the man.
“There were two refrigerators and a freezer. Next, the boiler and the bathroom. No longer there,” adds the woman.
Food packages were handed over to the population. It is a guarantee that aid will come where it is most needed. The elderly have been given medications.
The distances to nearby cities are great. In addition, most villagers have no transport to go to town.
“What we saw was that a bicycle was a luxury, too. It has not yet recovered to such a level that there is regular public transport,” said volunteer, organizer of the campaign #droniukrainai (Drones for Ukraine) Rita Šteina.
Gifts for little Ukrainians have been provided by the mission Pakāpieni (Steps). The delivery of these packages is the most emotional, said Rita Šteina.
“There was a boy out there who got a gift for himself. He had the courage to ask for a package for his sister. I went to talk to him. There were luminiscent stars in the package. I made a remark that you could put them to the ceiling and the walls, and he told me there were no more walls because the house had burned down and he was living with some lady. Then the village elder came to me and told me that his parents had died, too. And these are two orphans that the village takes care of...” Rita said.
With no rest or food but happy with the work done, volunteers go back to Latvia to organize the next aid package.