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Snow and frost, 1,600 kilometers in one go, hours at the border, skirmishes among truckers… Such was the journey of more than 400 Christmas packages to Western Ukraine. Children in need, or children’s homes were brought gifts by Leoš Mrtvý from the Archdiocesan Charity Olomouc with his colleague Karel. Truck loaded with joy, long journey. For the tenth time…

Ten years ago, with the director of the Archdiocesan Charity Olomouc Václav Keprt, you transported a few Christmas packages for the first time. They fitted in a passenger car. Now it was a record shipment, over 400 packages… How does such a load go?

The truck was full of parcels, not moving. Otherwise, over the years, it is a routine. Because all the presents are wrap in Christmas paper, they inspire strange customs. Unlike in previous years, however, it went very well now. At the Ukrainian side, there was a soldier who gave us one package.

How did the trip go?

We are changing with Karel, because one would not make such a long journey in a single raid. We always drive a proven track, especially on the main roads where the roads are in good condition. Although navigation wants to lead us in a shorter way, it is full of holes, often twenty centimeters long, and when they are cover with water or snow, one does not see them and goes into them… We would leave the wheels there. The longer journey is definitely faster.

What do you have to reckon with every year?

We are equipped for the winter; we have blankets, two beds and gas heating in the car. However, mostly civilization is going on, and in Ukraine, it is not as it was before, that one did not get help, except for the section through the Carpathians, where it is more complicated at night, so we should not stay anywhere. In addition, when we are carrying Christmas packages, we have to go in a single haul so that we do not give the bandit the cause to rob us. This happens both in Ukraine and in our country. Furthermore, we are struggling with corruption every year. He lurks everywhere – between customs officers and police officers. Bargaining does not have much value. Years ago, we were struggling, we said, “We take the presents to your children and you still want money from us?” The customs officer said, “My children, you won’t take anything!”

Was there something that surprised you on the way?

Yes, our car. The starter was annoyed, freewheel did not jump there. Unfortunately, it happened at the most inconvenient time – in Ukraine and it was terrible cold. The car was cold and could not start. The worst was always in the morning. We had to count on it, to park on the hills to start the car downhill if it was the worst. Then during the day, we had to run the engine and turn it off only when it was necessary.
And what about the border, I heard something about waiting a few hours and also skirmishing …

On the way there we waited at the border for 6 hours, back at the border with Slovakia even 12 hours. We count on that. Some may begin to nerve their nerves. Now, two truckers began to overtake. They pulled the trucks into the scanner, but they were so close together that they stuck and blocked the entrance. Then one of them jumped out and banged together. One of them was slower and it took him back to the car. Meanwhile, the other quickly mounted and rode

It must be challenging… When you come back and get home, what are you looking forward to most?

We always bring packages to Ukraine just before Christmas; we have no idea what will happen to the car, it is not the youngest anymore, so we are going to get a little off to get back home for the holidays.

MgA. Karolína Opatřilová, Archidiocese of Olomouc

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