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'We all kept crying': Ukrainian yoga teacher drives 2,000 miles to homeland to deliver relief supplies

A Ukrainian woman who broke down in tears when she heard that Russia had invaded felt compelled to rent a van and travel across Europe to seek help from the war-torn country.

Living in Oxfordshire since 2020, Alina Skuba has a Ukrainian mother and British stepfather.

She moved to Oxfordshire two years ago and set up her own yoga studio in Witney.

“I finished school in Ukraine and when I moved to the UK at 18, I went to the University of Essex. My siblings and all my extended family all live in Ukraine.

“In 2018, I took all the members of my running club and did a full marathon together. They all fell in love with Ukraine and were planning to do another trip after the pandemic. Little did I know…”

When Alina opens Yogalina Wellness Studio on Corn Street in late 2021, she fulfills a decade-long dream: “I truly believe that yoga can be an invaluable tool for everyone.”

However, while she was preparing to open the port, there were reports suggesting that Russia was about to invade.

She said: “This has made me very uneasy and worried, but I still do not believe that a complete invasion is possible. Were you sure it wasn’t?”

But when she read the headline on the morning of February 24, her stomach dropped.

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“I remember my stomach hurting. I went to the bathroom, washed my face, and collapsed on the floor. It was hell.

“Then I started calling my brothers, family members and friends who mostly live in Kyiv.

“I didn’t go to work that day. I felt helpless, but I still wanted the day to end.”

But it wasn’t. And her desperately worried Alina decided to drive some 2,000 miles and she 34 hours to Ukraine to offer her help.

“A week after the war started, I learned from my family and friends that there was a shortage of food, medicine and baby food. I decided to haul supplies myself to proven sources.”

She received so many donations and so much help to support her mission that she was able to fill two trucks within two weeks.

Alina says:

“The journey was long, emotional and exhausting, but rewarding. I also met many volunteers from Germany, England and Austria who are providing humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

“On the way to the border, I saw a lot of military machines heading towards Ukraine.

“When I finally arrived at the border, my Ukrainian contact, Igor, was already waiting for me to unload the van. He was a wonderful human being, very strong and patriotic.

“After we unloaded the van, Igor began to tell me and many other volunteers across Europe a patriotic poem about the struggle between Ukraine and Russia, which had been dominated for centuries. rice field.

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“Most of the volunteers listening to this poem didn’t speak Ukrainian, but we all cried and cried and cried, as told from the heart of Igor.

“This experience will never be forgotten and will be remembered forever.”

Alina has already helped guide six families to safety in Oxfordshire.

“Supporting Ukraine gave me a sense of purpose and, in a way, a distraction from my fear,” she said.

“All I want is for this war to end so that people can go back to their loved ones and live in a safe place like we do.

“There has been a tremendous amount of support from Witney and all of Oxfordshire in terms of donations, family acceptance and organizational support. It melts my heart.

“It’s a terrible situation, but so much goodwill and kindness has come from people, and I am eternally grateful to each and every one of you.”

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