Breaked up tank in Ukraine. Photo: Ton Schellings

Few people dare to travel to a war zone of their own accord to help people in need. Ton Schellings, owner of the De Avonturier coach company, clearly belongs to the select group who do dare to do so. On Sunday 27 November he leaves for Ukraine to bring stoves there, handing out food parcels and evacuating people. However, he does not do this near the border areas, but all the way to Kiev.

“I’m going to Kiev to bring a few hundred stoves there,” says Schellings. “The counter is currently at two hundred, but I hope to eventually deliver more than three hundred heaters. Winter is coming, of course, so it will be very cold. In addition, the entire electricity grid was down there. That’s why I’m bringing as many stoves there as possible this time. I also hope to have enough budget left to buy groceries for the people there. Finally, I will also transport a number of Ukrainians to the Netherlands”, the coach operator explains his intentions.

Bunk beds However, this is not the first time for Schellings to travel to the Ukrainian capital. He already did that in May of this year. “Then I brought bunk beds for about forty people. In addition, we were also able to do a lot of shopping. We made food packages out of that and then distributed them. Finally, I also had 27 people, a dog, a cat and a hamster back to the Netherlands. It was a successful move. Hopefully this time will be as successful as last time.”

That something could happen to me there, I am aware of

During that trip, Ton Schellings was confronted for the first time with the devastation that the Russian army has wrought in Ukraine. “We have seen the consequences of this war. Just before you actually drive into Kiev, you see the first things that are broken. Broken tanks, for example. They’re right there on the highway. Then I slalom through it. In other cities, such as Boucha, the situation is even worse. There you see the devastation of this war. Apartment buildings and sometimes even entire neighborhoods are broken there.”

Coach driver Ton Schellings has seen the consequences of the war with his own eyes. Gimeg That is why Ton Schellings has a mission: to help the people in Ukraine again. However, he is not alone. For example, the enthusiastic coach operator has signed a deal with Gimeg, a manufacturer specializing in accessories for camping, caravans and atmospheric heating. “For a hundred euros we can offer a family a warm home,” he says. In addition, Schellings also collects money itself to buy groceries for the Ukrainians.

The first step, according to Schellings, is to fill the bus as much as possible with heaters. On Sunday 27 November he gets into his coach, with Kiev as his destination final destination. When asked how many people he expects to bring back to the Netherlands this time, he replies: “About thirty. But those are daily rates, because if two more missiles fall on Kiev, the bus will be full again in one fell swoop.”

Coaching company The Adventurer in Ukraine. Bosnia So Ton Schellings travels of his own free will to a war zone to help people in need. Although the coach operator has been in the business for a number of years, war zones are no unknown territory for him. “For example, I was a UN soldier in Bosnia. That was of course a while ago, but I have also experienced the necessary misery there. At the time I was with a battalion that did nothing but deliver stoves, tents and food. I also traveled to Africa twice by bus. Once in Gambia and once in Sierra Leone.”

Look, you can’t go either. But if everyone thought that way, those people over there would have it even harder

He therefore knows from experience that actions such as these are not for everyone. “You have to be able to properly assess certain situations and also be able to manage yourself through something. You have to be able to get things done, even if you don’t speak the language. And you also have to be able to do something technically. If you go there as a driver and you have never changed a tire, then you simply have no business there. Then you can call the ANWB, but don’t count on them coming to your aid there,” says Schellings laughing.

Safety Although the coach operator is motivated to bring his initiative to a successful conclusion, Schellings realizes that his own safety may be at stake. “I am aware that something could happen to me there. All certainties disappear when you enter a war zone. That’s just how it is. The other side of the coin is that I can really do something for the people there, offer direct help. That is also the reason why I am working on this trip with an organization that has contacts with the local Red Cross in the Ukraine.”

“My family, I have a wife and three children, are doubled,” Schellings continues. “On the one hand, they are of course concerned about whether everything is going well, but on the other hand, they also understand that I want to go there in this way. Precisely because they know that you can mean so much there. Of course it is not without worries, but we try to limit the risks in as many ways as possible. Look, you can’t go either. But if everyone thought that way, it would be even harder for those people there.”

People who want to support this campaign can transfer a contribution to NL19ABNA0496368133 tnv T. Schellings.

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