We have been in the gastronomic services business for many years, and in our restaurant Oh My Ramen we have people from different countries, including Ukraine, and our story began with a Ukrainian woman named Olena, who has been working with us for several years.

February 24, 2022, is the scariest day for every Ukrainian. Olena’s children, who lived with her grandmother at the time, were in Ukraine. Early in the morning she was told that Russia had attacked Ukraine and a war had begun, it was very dangerous for the children to stay in Ukraine. A few days later, Olena went to the border to meet her children, and she waited there for two days.

During that time she saw kilometer-long lines, people standing in the cold for 48-72 hours, mothers in their arms with children just leaving their suitcases with their belongings to cross the border into Poland, people who had not eaten anything for over a day.

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While Olena was waiting for her children, a girl walked across the border with her two sons and a small backpack on her shoulders, approached Olena to ask if there was any store nearby to buy hot tea for the children, because they were very cold, cannot count how much time they spent in queue, and in their haste to get ready they did not even have time to take warm clothes with them. And more than 300,000 such people entered Poland during the five days of the war, needing help and support.

It was at that moment that she realized how terrible the situation was and what chaos was going on around her. Immediately after arriving with her children, Olena reported everything she saw around her to us.

Without thinking twice our team bought a huge amount of products and set off in the direction of the border with Ukraine. The food truck served as a kitchen for us, and for the exhausted Ukrainians, for a long time, a quiet place to keep warm and have a good meal. At that time we did not yet know what awaited us or how many lunches we would have to make. In the first month we gave out over 60,000 hot lunches to Ukrainians at the border, without waiting for such a demand or result. We worked around the clock to help everyone. Refugees gratefully received hot lunches, as it was the end of February and temperatures in Ukraine and Poland were dropping below zero.

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We met a WCK volunteer, talked about our initiative, and realized that we share the same goal. That’s how we started our collaboration and we’re still working together.

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Now we know that refugees from Ukraine are going through a difficult time, so they need special help and support. If now the main needs are psychological support, help in finding accommodation, providing hot meals, then later it will be adaptation in Poland, finding a job and integration into Polish society.

We want to support everyone at their stage of life in Poland. And you can help us in this.

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Oleksandr Levenko and Vitaliy Yedynak from Oh My Ramen restaurant, in cooperation with World Central Kitchen, serve hot lunches to thousands of refugees who arrived from Ukraine on February 26.