Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, nearly 10 million people have been forced to leave their homes. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, 90% of them are women and children. While some move within Ukraine’s borders, others try to flee the country and they have no choice: they must agree to get into the cars of strangers, often men, without being sure of their final destination. To help Ukrainian women, Ella Jarmulska, a 38-year-old Polish entrepreneur, decided to create an exclusive female carpool collective. Objective: to repatriate these women and children to Poland in complete safety.
From the first days of the conflict, Ella Jarmulska wanted to support the Ukrainian people, reports The HuffPost† This Polish mother then organizes collections of basic necessities, but one day she decides to move on and goes to the Ukrainian-Polish border. Arriving at the Dorohusk post, she finds: “I saw about 30 men, alone, in their cars, waiting outside to take refugees away. And within a compact crowd of Ukrainian women and children who did not go outside. something was wrong”she tells the HuffPost†
Ella Jarmulska, facing the crowd, raises her hand and makes the international women’s danger sign (four fingers up) as she shouts “Warsaw!” calls. Neither one nor two, two Ukrainian women and a little girl follow her and get into her car. On board, the refugees confirm to her what she foresaw: “They were afraid of being kidnapped, raped or worse,” says Ella Jarmulska to the HuffPostwho confirms that in their place she wouldn’t be “never climbed in” [la] car” from a strange man.
On the way home, the 38-year-old Polish woman posts a message on Facebook inviting other women to drive. This is how the group “Women at the wheel!” was born. (â€œKobiety Za KÃ³Å‚ko!â€ ), which brings together more than 650 female volunteers.
Nearly 200 women and children repatriated
With the help of a VTC company, 150 Polish women take turns driving to the Ukrainian border every day. There, each of them will be given a vehicle to bring Ukrainian women and children back to Poland in complete safety. Other members of the carpool collective do not drive but provide safe drop-off points, indicates The HuffPost† Since the inception of the initiative, nearly 200 women and children have been repatriated by the women of â€œKobiety Za KÃ³Å‚ko!â€ .
On board her vehicle, Elle Jarmulska urges herself not to ask the refugees any questions. “If they feel the need, it always comes from themselves, she emphasizes. The stories I hear break my heartshe adds: HuffPost†
Today, the group is starting to make itself known and display its logo on the windshields of cars. An online kitty has opened to help members pay for gas and fund basic necessities donations.