After days of bus ride – rescued! 157 Ukrainian children arrived in Freiburg


Friborg – Missiles, attack helicopters firing, repeated attacks. It is now the fourth day of Kremlin despot Vladimir Putin’s (69) campaign against Ukraine. The relentless war of aggression hits the weakest hardest.

Sunday morning in Freiburg (Baden-Württemberg). A convoy of four buses pulls up at a high school. On board: 157 children in care and 30 carers. They came from Kiev after hours and hours of driving and traffic jams. Now they are safe.

Children suffer mental anguish

“If we hadn’t fled, we wouldn’t have known what was happening to us,” said the head of the Ukrainian children’s home, Dr. Roman Korniiko to Freiburg’s Mayor Martin Horn (37). And: “In just a few hours after the start of the war, the children aged ten years. Childhood is over. The war is sobering. I promised the children that if we come here, their childhood will come back.”

According to BILD information, the man had to leave around 50 children behind because they had no identity papers. He wants to go back to Ukraine as soon as possible.



Home manager Roman Korniiko organized the transport. He wants to go back to Ukraine soon to save more childrenPhoto: Sascha Baumann / all4foto.de

The children from the home “Father’s House” only carry bags, small backpacks and cuddly toys. They were given FFP2 masks on the buses, accommodated in the school gym, should be given medical care, PCR tested and registered. Later they will be distributed to other institutions.

The long journey was traumatic. Only by luck did the convoy escape a life-threatening Russian attack. Head of the children’s home, Korniiko: “When the children thought they were in a safe zone, they were shot at by drones. They were very frightened. You should have heard them pray.”


A helper shows a sign, behind her fire engines

A helper shows a sign, behind her fire enginesPhoto: Sascha Baumann / all4foto.de

The frightened children even had to do without food and drink to avoid having to go to the toilet on the way. “We covered 500 kilometers without stopping,” says Korniiko.

The children came on the initiative of the Freiburg City Mission, which has been involved with the “Father’s House” in Kiev for years, and contacted the city to make the admission possible.

The Lord Mayor: “A really emotional, moving moment for all of us. Four buses with almost 200 people, children, young people of different ages. But some accompanying persons have now arrived, evacuated from Kiev after an odyssey. Across the Ukraine, across Poland, arrived in Dresden at midnight and now here today in Freiburg. We are all deeply moved when you see the faces of these little children. We are glad that this evacuation worked.”


A toddler in a woman's arms

A toddler in a woman’s arms. The children had to take their few belongings with them in plastic bagsPhoto: Sascha Baumann / all4foto.de

The children’s journey began on Thursday around 10 p.m. They are said to have waited around ten hours in a traffic jam at a border crossing on the Ukrainian side before they could cross into Poland. In Dresden they got on German buses, after which the children were driven to Freiburg.

Katja Potzies from the Freiburg City Mission: “The children have put a lot of hardship behind them. They are 70 hours on the road, they didn’t have enough food with them for the first two days because they had to leave immediately.”


Tired but happy.  The heroic bus drivers during a break in Dresden.  There the children boarded other buses

Tired but happy. The heroic bus drivers during a break in Dresden. There the children boarded other busesPhoto: Olaf Rentsch

Orphanage is in the combat zone

It remains to be seen whether they will ever be able to return to their home country. Korniiko: “At this moment, Kiev is being attacked by Russian tanks. The father’s house is on the front line. We don’t know what’s happening.”

The director of the children’s home will continue to fight for his protégés. He thanks everyone who made the rescue operation possible. “I am overwhelmed with emotions. How much love is here, how much care is here. How much attention is here.” And further: “I am grateful that you have received us with so much love.”

The Stadtmission Freiburg has set up a donation account and is dependent on donations.

Account holder: Evangelische Stadtmission Freiburg e. V

IBAN DE14520604100100506109

BIC GENODEF1EK1

Key word: Ukraine help.

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