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By: Justicia Shipena 

A Namibian student was among those who fought tooth and nail with the cold weather at the Poland border in an effort to escape Ukraine after Russia’s invasion. 

With temperatures dropping, Ethan (not his real name) lost consciousness before crossing the Polish border while awaiting his turn to enter Poland due to the cold. 

“I was shaking. I don’t know what was happening. All I could remember was that my chest became so heavy in breathing,” he told The Villager. 

He was coming from Lviv after hustling for a train to the border. 

At that moment, Ethan said his vision was vivid, and everything was moving so slow. 

“I’m trying not to panic. I’m trying to find a spot where I can sit and try to regain my focus, but I could not as all the sides of the border had no walls,” he expressed. 

It was Sunday, he continues to say, “I lost consciousness, and then I woke up in a blanket in the arms of an Indian lady. She covered me with a blanket and gave me a jersey.” 

He further said that the Indian lady also offered him bread. 

“The two slices of bread, I kept pieces for the remaining hours so I can feed along the way. I was taking small bites of it for the energy,” he said. 

A media crew passed by Ethan at the border, they then gave him an orange.

“That orange, I also shared it with other people. So you can just imagine how hungry we were, and we kept drinking leftover water. It was tough,” said Ethan. 

Caught up in the whole mist, he lost his laptop bag and some of his other belongings. 

Three musketeers broken up

He said the border at which he was, was only used by three Namibians. 

“At that border, they were only allowing ladies to pass first. So the other two Namibians I was with were ladies, and we got separated, and I stayed behind.”

After crossing the Ukrainian border, it was time for him to cross the Polish border. 

“We had to wait to follow the polish border procedures. And they were also taking ladies first. I slept at the Polish border for one night, and it was tiring. I was sleepwalking and cold,” he emphasised. 

Ethan adds that he was worried but at the same time kept thinking positive. 

“You don’t know what you are going to eat. I was drinking water that I found from half bottles on the road.”

He further said that people would get blankets from suitcases that had been abandoned on the side of the road to keep warm. 

“So many people left their suitcases due to fear and panic. We also had to make fires to keep warm,” he said.

Moreover, after making it through the Polish border, he said he was overjoyed, although he still had to walk 100m to the closest town. 

“My whole just body realised that I made it, I felt the joy. On my may, Polish residents gave us free food and get ready morning starter packs with snacks, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant and shower gel.” 

Choas at the border 

At the border, he talks of how people pushed and thrust when it was time for them to move in line. 

“No one wants to be left behind, and now they are pushing. The more you push, the more you wait at the border because we had to follow procedures, but people did not want to understand that,” he tells. 

In this vein, he said most nationalities began to make others feel inferior. 

“I was the only Namibian, so it was hard to stick with other Africans because we did not understand each other language-wise.”

“It was tough, and seeing people in extreme panic mode is not the best experience at all.” 

He said he was able to reach one of the girls he was with at the border before separating. 

“We are at the same accommodation, and we are so happy to see each other because we have been in this together, worried sick about each other. We made out alive. Many people did not, and some gave up in the process,” he expressed.  

He stated that the Namibian government helped guide him.  

“I was able to have someone to talk to. She came from Germany to Poland to ensure that all Namibians were brought to safety. Every time I charged my phone, she would call to check on me, and I would always update her.”

He also said he had to find accommodation once I arrived in Poland. 

“But the government is paying for our tickets to leave Poland and accommodation in the capital Warsaw. So finally, our government has provided something which is good,” he adds.











Justicia Shipena

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