Daily footage of new and unspeakable atrocities in Ukraine and the terrifying prospect of a nuclear accident or a deliberate launch of a nuclear weapon dominate the news coming from the war. There is even the possibility that bombing a Ukrainian nuclear reactor could release a “dirty” bomb. Not an actual nuclear bomb, but a lethal explosion that would scatter radioactive material, poisoning the air, water and earth, not to mention human beings.
Despite the horrors, good news manages to leak out, showcasing not the worst, but the best of humanity.
At the Hungarian border Ukrainian refugees are pouring into the country, 140,000 in the first seven days of the war. The Hungarian government is notoriously anti-immigrant, but Hungarians are streaming to the border to greet them. As the trains arrive in Budapest loaded with refugees, they are met by volunteers who welcome them with hot tea and toys for the children. They do not understand each other, because the Hungarian language is radically different from the Indo-European languages of Ukrainian and Russian (as well as English).
Women are carrying children and pets and dragging suitcases packed with the little they could salvage from homes that were burned or bombed or likely targets of Russian aggression. From the train platform they are directed to a staging area where tables piled with food await them: hot and cold beverages, sandwiches, snacks, fresh fruit and more. People with special dietary concerns, like vegans, find their needs have not been overlooked. Besides food, the refugees are given essentials they were unable to take with them. Medication, clothing, hygiene needs, blankets, paper goods— the Hungarians have tried to anticipate every need.
From this hall in the train station, the refugees are directed to a transportation hub where they are matched with people who will drive them to where they want to go— to embassies or homes of friends or family. Hungarians have lists of their compatriots who have offered temporary lodging to Ukrainians who arrive with no plans and nowhere to go. Some arrive with train tickets in hand for farther destinations. The ones who know where they want to go but have no way to get there are given train tickets.
From a humanitarian perspective, the outstanding feature of all this is that volunteers, not government, have organized and are executing this outpouring of generosity and love to their devastated brothers and sisters.
H/T to the on-the-spot reporting of MSNBC’s Ali Velshi.