Utah doctor rushes to Poland to help Ukrainian refugees

Mar 10, 2022, 6:44 PM | Updated: 9:20 pm
(Some of the Ukrainian refugees that arrived at the Warsaw Central Station in Poland after crossing...
(Some of the Ukrainian refugees that arrived at the Warsaw Central Station in Poland after crossing the Ukrainian border. This picture was taken by Dr. Alison Smith, who went to Poland to provide emergency medical care.)
(Some of the Ukrainian refugees that arrived at the Warsaw Central Station in Poland after crossing the Ukrainian border. This picture was taken by Dr. Alison Smith, who went to Poland to provide emergency medical care.)

WARSAW, POLAND – More Utahns are on their way to help Ukrainian refugees trying to escape the Russian invasion.  One Utah doctor rushed to Poland and was in such a hurry to get there, she left without forming a relief plan, first. 

If everything went to plan, Dr. Alison Smith would be vacationing in Mexico with her husband and toddler.  However, she felt compelled to change those plans after seeing the news of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, since so many refugees would need emergency help.

Smith said, “In times of crisis, I feel like I need to do something to help and contribute.”

She was working when she called her husband, asking if he’d be upset if they didn’t go to Mexico.

“He said, ‘Go ahead and cancel it.  I know you want to go to Poland.’  So, I did,” Smith said.

(The Warsaw Central Station, where Smith says large amounts of refugees are arriving. Photo: Alison Smith)

Helping Ukrainian refugees

Smith knows many Utahns want to help refugees fleeing from Ukraine. However, she doesn’t recommend people go about it the way she did.  She flew to Warsaw, despite not having a place to stay or a plan on how she would assist people.  However, she has experience providing emergency medical care in other countries, and she has been in touch with other humanitarian groups already in Poland.

“I felt hesitant on whether to do that, but I felt confident that I had enough contacts and they would be able to find something meaningful to do while I’m here,” Smith said.

She hopes to meet up with another Utah-based group, August Mission, after they announced they will also deploy people to Poland. 

(A mother feeding her baby at the crowded Warsaw Central Station. Photo: Alison Smith)

Smith says she was able give diapers, feminine hygiene products and other supplies to people packed into the train station in Warsaw. She then drove to the town of Lublin which is closer to the Ukrainian border.

“I have intentionally come this way tonight so that I can go to the border crossings, tomorrow,” she said.

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Utah doctor rushes to Poland to help Ukrainian refugees