Ukraine’s Bucha, cleansed by the falling rain, is back! We reach the town center in the late afternoon, after hours of driving. The moment we open the truck’s door, local men come running to help us unload the humanitarian aid we just delivered from Poland. Their faces speak of the burden they carry. Their thoughts allow them to escape for a microsecond, then they are back with us. Larisa, who manages the local relief center, shares their stories. Her daughter used to work there, too, but now she’s back with her military unit somewhere around Kherson. It’s getting late, we won’t be able to hit the road before the curfew. We have to find a place to stay overnight. The apartment we are offered sits in a half-demolished block. The windows have no glass, but there is a table with a crisp white cloth and generous women willing to share their dinner. There is no gas – the supply has been cut to prevent possible leaks or explosions in the damaged building. The town is eerily quiet. The deafening silence is periodically pierced by the wailing of an anti-aircraft siren. Despite all of that, Bucha looks better every day. Volunteers from all over the world have been flocking here to help clear the rubble, excavate the bodies, clean up the pulverized bricks and broken glass. Amidst the ruins, children frolic at miraculously surviving playgrounds.
They’re happy; they no longer have to cower in basements. It’s time to go. The last goodbyes, some final commemorative pictures. The local cops assure us that we can always count on them. Thank you for this earth-shattering experience. Bucha was first on our map. Next week, we’re headed for Kharkiv. That’s where the aid is truly desperately needed. Conquering our own vulnerabilities and exhaustion, we strive to deliver relief where it is needed the most, always directly passing on your generous contributions.