National | Refugee

'I just want to get my hands dirty' - Owen Pomana helping Ukraine war refugees

Humanitarian worker Owen Pomana (Ngāti Kahungunu) spoke to Te Ao Mārama from the border of Hungary and Ukraine last week, as he helped to transport supplies across the border for families in need.

Pomana arrived at the Christian Centre in Brasov, Romania, where workers were standing by ready to receive more than 100 Ukrainian refugees.

Ukrainian survivor Oleg recalls his home in Ukraine before he had to flee the war zone.

“I left my home about maybe three weeks. It was horrible. I was probably six days in a bunker and it always was bombing,” he says.

For the past three days, Pomana has been working with church leaders and volunteers to transform the church into a refugee centre.

“I'm not sure if they've come from Kyiv, Odesa or other places, but, there are a lot of women, there's a lot of children here and young men,”  Pomana says.

Pomana's next mission

Pastor Danny of the Christian Centre in Brasov says they are also preparing for the arrival of a hockey team from Ukraine.

“They will come with mums, so we'll probably have around 35 kids, mums and trainers, all of them together 38,” he says.

With drivers needed to take survivors from Ukraine's Kiev war zone to the Polish border, Pomana is already preparing for his next humanitarian mission.

“I've put my hand up to drive one of those vans and trucks. It's honourable for me, I'm just one of those crazy Kiwis who just want to get my hands dirty.”

“That's what I'll be doing for the next two weeks. I'll let you know what that looks like. It doesn't matter, my wairua (spirit) is good, my heart good and I just want to help."

Pomana will arrive in Poland by the end of the week.