Guido van Engelen is driving from city to country these days to help the people in his second homeland Ukraine through the harsh winter. A large part of that country is without power due to the attacks by Russia, but Guido offers help by collecting generators and sending them that way.
Guido has been living in the Ukrainian capital Kiev for almost thirty years. He fled when the first rockets came down there at the beginning of this year. Since then he lives with his parents in Chaam. There isn’t a day that he isn’t busy with the war. With his foundation the Lion Kyiv, he collects things and tools to support his compatriots.
“Better a winter without electricity than live with the Russians.”
One of the places Guido will drive past on Thursday is Biezenmortel. An employment agency with many Polish employees contacted him after collecting generators in the village. “You’d be surprised how many people still have such a thing in their attic somewhere. Sometimes even brand new,” says Guido. “Soon we will also go to Oirschot and Veghel. It comes from everywhere.”
The generators are distributed in Ukraine. Especially on the front line and in the newly liberated areas because they have no electricity there. “In some places they can’t make a cup of coffee yet,” explains Guido. “My neighbor cooks on a camping stove and others have to make fire outside. But they are holding on and don’t complain,” says Guido. “Better a winter without electricity than living with the Russians, they say.”
“It’s so important that lights are on there at Christmas.”
In the city of Kiev, no illuminated Christmas trees would actually be put up this year to save electricity, but thanks to the foundation they will still be installed. Two generators that were picked up in Oudenbosch on Thursday will provide power to part of the city. “It is of symbolic value and so important that the lights are lit there at Christmas,” Guido explains. “We can lend two large generators for a month, which are used to light up the Christmas trees. And around it will be a park with WiFi and charging points.”
“It’s a ride I won’t soon forget.”
When all generators are in the truck, the journey can begin. Young driver Rodney Batting normally transports grain, but is now allowed to take the generators to the border. His boss is sponsoring the ride. The boy himself is quite sober about it, but: “My mother was not very pleasant this morning, he laughs. “She is concerned. Where we’re going should be pretty safe, but it’s still a war zone. Either way, it’s a ride I won’t soon forget.”