Eagle County resident shares advice from Ukraine border

Kelli Rohrig says for those who want to help, finding what supplies are actually needed can be tricky

A photo from an animal shelter on the border of Poland and Ukraine shared by Eagle County resident Kelli Rohrig. Rohrig says both humans and animals are in need of select medication in Ukraine.
Courtesy photo

Moved to tears by a video clip she saw of families carrying their cats from their homes in Ukraine, Eagle County resident Kelli Rohrig, in March, decided she wanted to visit the country to try to help.

She doesn’t recommend her course of action to others, but has learned a lot from the ordeal, and does have advice for those who want to get involved.

“Find an organization and ask them what they need,” Rohrig said in a WhatsApp call from the border of Poland and Ukraine on Friday.

Rohrig said after deciding to visit Ukraine, booking a ticket into Poland and reaching a point where she said she was “going no matter what,” she had no trouble reaching Lviv in western Ukraine, on the Polish boarder.

And what she found on the Polish side of the border was surprising.

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“There’s everything you could want, all free,” she said.

What’s missing is not the things people want, but what they need, and how to get it to the people who are still in Ukraine.

“How do we get mass quantities of insulin in, if we have to keep it refrigerated?” Rohrig said.

Eagle County resident Kelli Rohrig has been assisting with humanitarian efforts in western Ukraine and eastern Poland in recent weeks. She says transportation of select medication into the deeper parts of Ukraine has been one of the biggest challenges among aid groups.
Courtesy image

Rohrig said upon getting across the border into Lviv, it became immediately apparent that the problem humanitarians were having was sourcing of select items, transportation and logistics.

“There’s volunteers standing around, that’s not what’s needed,” Rohrig said. “What’s needed is people with the ability to find medications and certain products.”

Rohrig, based on her contact with people in the area, had arrived with some of those products.

“I brought over a bunch of medical trauma supplies, supplies for the pet shelter, and cash,” she said.

Rohrig said the organization she had been in contact with, the International Police Association, connected her with others charged with getting food past Lviv.

“Everything’s getting to Lviv, but then past that is this dead zone,” she said. “So they were trying to work that out … It’s really hard to find transportation, there’s a bottleneck.”

A photo from the Ukraine-Poland border shared by Eagle County resident Kelli Rohrig. Rohrig said getting people across the border has not been as difficult as getting large quantities of supplies which require special transport vehicles.
Courtesy image

Rohrig said she assisted in a delivery of thyroid medication into Ukraine, and also helped several people in exiting the country, encountering some heartbreaking situations.

“One couple had with nothing but their six cats,” she said.

Her trip was coming to a close on Friday, but Rohrig said back in the United States, she will continue to assist with logistics, helping organizations work together to get supplies past Lviv.

“You have all these humanitarian efforts … but as far as getting in, there’s little coordination,” she said. “I already told my husband I’m definitely coming back.”

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