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Category: Ukraine

Ukraine travel blog

Leaving Ukraine again, again

Leaving Ukraine again, again

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been in Ukraine for another three months already. Although I’ve had more down time during this stint than I would have liked, the weeks have still flown by. The sad reality for many small, independent, volunteer humanitarian organizations – which are the ones serving the villages in regional Ukraine – is that aid money is drying up. As the war continues into its 19th month, donations are getting smaller and less frequent, and without…

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‘Would you like gloves with that?’

‘Would you like gloves with that?’

One of the most enjoyable things about traveling to a new country is sampling the local cuisine. In addition to the ingredients themselves, the manner in which a dish is served, and eaten, is all part of a location’s unique food culture. A few weeks ago, we were out for dinner in one of the bar-and-restaurant joints in the main street of our southern Ukrainian town. With the start of curfew now pushed back to midnight, the city has reclaimed…

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For a hard earned thirst

For a hard earned thirst

It was a typical northern Australian afternoon. The sun was beating down, it was bloody hot, and the town’s dogs had sought out the shade of the trees that lined the main road. Each car that pulled up outside the general store brought a swirl of white, powder dry dust that hung in the air. Blokes in singlets and shorts filed in and out of the shop, where air conditioners buzzed in a vain attempt to keep the temperature inside…

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One at a time

One at a time

It took about two and half hours of good, bad, and shithouse roads to reach the demining team. When we arrived, they were waiting for us at a crossroads on the edge of their village, sitting in the shade next to their work van. We pulled up, and the team of six heavily-tanned Ukrainians shook our hands with cheerful greetings of ‘dobry den‘ (good day). Their leader, Victor, explained that they were breaking for lunch, and told us to join…

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The kindness of strangers V

The kindness of strangers V

Although it was only mid-morning, the sun was already beating down and the humidity was high. From the corner of the street I could see down to the river, wide and shimmering and flanked by thick bands of reeds. Nearby, heavy vehicles worked to remove large piles of rubbish and debris from outside the modest homes that lined the muddy road. My colleagues were coordinating a team of six men, who were part of an army of workers cleaning up…

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Deadly harvest

Deadly harvest

When it comes to dangerous jobs, farming is rated as one of the most, if not the most, perilous occupations in Australia. I’ve done a fair bit of agricultural work myself, and can say from experience that some of the tasks associated with primary production are inherently risky. The way some operators go about these jobs can also significantly increase the chances of getting hurt. Although I haven’t had a huge amount of experience with broad acre cropping, I have…

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Mud and Memories

Mud and Memories

Loaded with food and blankets, our three-car convoy drove east from the city. Our destination was a small village that had been flooded when Russian forces blew up the Kakhovka Dam on the 6th of June. Our route passed several other villages, where rocket/artillery strikes on the road had been freshly patched with bitumen. When an incoming round lands on a road, it leaves a distinctive pattern: a hole at the impact point, and then a ‘splatter’ of smaller holes…

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Making Borsch

Making Borsch

I arrived back in southern Ukraine on a warm evening, pulling up outside the address I had been given on the outskirts of the city. I was relieved to get out and stretch after the eight hour drive, and breathe in the warm air which was sweet with the smell of summer gardens. The house where the NGO was now based was in a quiet, dusty cul-de-sac, and over the fence I could see a large block with several fruit…

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Leaving Ukraine again

Leaving Ukraine again

My second stint in Ukraine, after returning from a few months in Germany, has been a rollercoaster to say the least. I have been welcomed by Ukrainians that are now close friends, been fed a huge array of delicious foods, toasted with home made wine and spirits, and tour-guided through historic sites. I have seen a great deal more of the country, from cities to small villages, and the rolling cropping country that feeds millions here and around the world….

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Memories, Hopes and Changes

Memories, Hopes and Changes

It had been 3 months since I had been to the city, and I was wondering if I would see much change. Security was still tight; the soldiers manning the checkpoint on the edge of town were strict and cautious, inspecting our documents and vehicles carefully before waving us through. They were fully kitted out and armed, and their heavily dug-in positions lined the road. The first thing I noticed as we reached the city was the increased amount of…

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