As a powerful symbol of solidarity between mothers and the Ukrainian refugees who are arriving in the country, a photo of empty strollers being lined up at a station in Poland is now going viral.
Photojournalist Francesco Malavolta captured the poignant image while documenting the arrival of people seeking asylum in Poland, eight miles from Ukraine’s border.
Seven strollers of various sizes are lined up on a platform at the border crossing between Ukraine (and Przemysl in Poland) in the photo.
Mothers who are tired of carrying their children all that way from Ukraine to a safe destination would be relieved by the baby buggies. Their journeys would often take several days.
The strollers were brought by local moms and women’s associations for Ukrainian moms arriving with babies and little children. Some strollers were filled with blankets and stuffed toys that the mothers could use for their children.
The strollers are available for those who need them. This is a great example of how mothers can support one another during this time.
“The arriving women had left their strollers in Ukraine to speed up the journey and because many of (the women) were traveling without husbands because they remained fighting,” the photographer told TODAY.
Because the Ukrainian government banned males aged 18 to 60 from leaving the war-stricken nation, women were forced to leave their brothers and fathers behind.
Malavolta spoke with one of the women who left a stroller at the station.
“I spoke to one of them saying she was happy to have left her stroller and some clothes at the nearby school out of solidarity with the incoming people from Ukraine,” he said.
Malavolta stated that he was struck at the lack of people on the scene.
“While two meters away there were miles of people. It seemed unbelievable. I thought of them both … about the solidarity of those who brought the strollers and the dramatic stories of mothers fleeing the war,” he said.
Malavolta has been documenting refugees attempting to cross the border between Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Hungary for the past two weeks.
“There is a strong feeling of solidarity,” he said. “There should always be and for everyone, regardless of the starting points of the most fragile.”
Malavolta also captured another photo of strollers lined in Vyšné, Slovakia, near the Ukrainian border.
“After the Przemyśl railway station in Poland, also on the border between Slovakia and Ukraine, passengers are brought for those mothers forced to flee Ukraine with their babies,” he wrote in a caption.
Russia invaded Poland on February 24, and as of March 7, more than a million refugees had fled the country. Many fled with their children and only a few of their precious possessions.
Przemysl has a crisis center that allows mothers to charge their phones and have food to eat while they plan their next move.
Berlin was home to thousands of Germans who came to the station to offer their homes to Ukrainian refugees. The clip below shows a woman speaking into the camera and explaining that there are many people who want help. As the camera pans the area, you can see locals holding up handwritten signs in an effort to help refugees.
@thisorthatmort #ukraine #ukrainewar #ukrainetiktok2020 #ukraineinvasion #ukraine🇺🇦 #ukrainevsrussia #ukrainetiktok #ukraine2022 #berlin ♬ original sound – ThisOrThatMort
A refugee camp was set up in Romania by people who surprised Arina, a young Ukrainian girl, on her seventh birthday. In the footage below, volunteers can be heard singing “Happy Birthday” to her. The girl was led to a cake where she lit the candles. A small crowd cheered her.
Aseară,cei din Tabăra Mobilă de la Siret au aflat, o fetiță împlinea 7 ani.
La mulți ani, Arina! Îți dorim ca acest coșmar pe care îl trăiți să se termine cât mai repede, iar următoarea ta zi de naștere să o serbezi acasă.
Mulțumim tuturor celor implicați!
Voi sunteți ROMÂNIA! pic.twitter.com/vgs5ggOt6o
— MAI România – Ministry of Internal Affairs Romania (@MAIRomania) March 4, 2022
People around the world have also used Airbnb to book accommodation in Ukraine to funnel funds to those who are in need of financial assistance.
These stories prove that kindness always comes first—especially during a war. We can only aspire to see this senseless crisis end soon.