AN OVERTON man who escaped from Ukraine just days before the start of the war is now coordinating with a group of friends to set up a station in Slovakia for escaping refugees.

John Green, whose family is now living in Andover, had been working as an English teacher in Kyiv for the past two years.

He has managed to escape with his Ukrainian girlfriend just days before the conflict intensified.

John, 26, and his girlfriend Yuliia are now living in an Airbnb in Georgia, from where they are coordinating the works in Slovakia.

Andover Advertiser: John Green and his girlfriend YuliiaJohn Green and his girlfriend Yuliia

“I have found my way to do what little I can to help by assisting my friends in Slovakia in any way I can,” John told the Gazette.

“Frankly, my work has been minimal in comparison to what my friends have been doing. I have been in contact with people I know in Slovakia, doing what I can to share information, make connections between people willing to help, and also working to help the refugees.

“On Sunday (February 27), we helped six people find safety and shelter in Slovakia, and yesterday (February 28) we helped facilitate another 30 people to reach Western Slovakia.”

The group John is part of is named Connection Point Slovakia.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help raise money for the Slovakian shelter. It has so far raised just more than £5,000 at the time of writing this report, but the group will need more money to help the escaping refugees.

Andover Advertiser: From left: John Green, Lewis, Noah and Noah's girlfriend Oksana in KyivFrom left: John Green, Lewis, Noah and Noah's girlfriend Oksana in Kyiv

John said the camp idea is the brainchild of his friend Lewis Edwards.

“Lewis works with a group of business associates who run summer camps for Ukrainian children. They have some locations in Ukraine and Slovakia.

“His idea when all this started was to open up the camp locations to keep as a base to get people across the border and also with the vision to host people in this location.”

Looking back at the time he escaped from Ukraine, John said it has been a rollercoaster ride.

“The first couple of days after our escape were just heartbreak and sheer terror,” John said.

“At the end of January, the news started coming about the conflict. At that point everyone was still firmly believing that nothing was going to happen. It was all sort of been blown out of proportion because this conflict has been going on for eight years. And there have been multiple times in that timeframe where Putin has amassed troops on the border. So people thought the only difference now is the Western media are more aware of it.

“The weekend before February 16 was when news started to get especially bleak. It was only then the British government said to get out. The US government had told Americans to get out in the previous week. But I still didn't believe that anything like this would happen. My plan was to have a bit of time in Georgia, sort of regain the mental Health, because everyone was sitting anxiously and unsure about what's going to happen. Yuliia was supportive of my decision and she came with me.”

John now believes it was the right time to get out of Ukraine as his friends who left weeks before him, went back to Ukraine thinking nothing would happen.

“If we had left before, we would have been convinced to go back. We would have been stuck along with our other friends. But fortunately, most of my foreign friends have successfully made it out of the country.”

However, Yuliia’s parents are still in Kyiv.

“We have no idea what's going on. We are happy to be outside the country, but we know so many people are still out there and we're scared for them. Yuliia’s family is committed to staying to the end no matter what happens.”

If you would like to contribute to Connection Point Slovakia, click here.

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