Dynamic trio of Tim, Tony and Fab fitting the and painting the bathrooms at Actions Beyond Words base in Medyka Poland

LONG READ : It rose like a Pheonix: a vital new home in a warehouse, delivered with love and goodwill

Massey, the co-founder of Actions Beyond Words, fondly reflects on the humble beginnings of what has now become a thriving hub in Medyka, Poland. He vividly remembers his arrival on March 5th, 2022, when he was welcomed by a modest garden greenhouse serving food on behalf of World Central Kitchen, an amazing organisation he initially volunteered for. This is the inspiring story of the birth of “84.”

Volunteers from around the world quickly flocked to Medyka, attracting global press attention. The demands placed on the closest town, Przemlysl, were overwhelming, as accommodation options were limited. Some volunteers resorted to sleeping in cars or driving for hours in search of rest, while others improvised with tents or slept on pallet shelving in open retail units provided by locals.

The pressing need to find a solution became evident. Despite well-intentioned ideas from smaller NGOs, the challenges of managing such a complex situation with limited funding guarantees prompted Simon to explore alternative options. This instinct proved correct, as other proposed collaborative accommodation projects gradually fell through.

Working closely with the local community, Massey and his team overcame initial doubts and built trust. They managed the Medyka site, coordinated international volunteers, and tirelessly worked to turn their vision into reality.

Thanks to the support of Magda and Jacek, local landlords, a rental agreement was secured for a tired unit. The space was filled with a cornucopia of treasures which would have to be rehomed before work could begin and uncertainties regarding funding posed a threat. Nevertheless, they rallied individuals together, using crowd-funded money and locally sourced wood to construct bunk beds.

Initially lacking essential utilities, Gareth Witt, a lead and stunning volunteer in Medyka, arranged for showers, toilets, and sinks to be brought and installed from his hometown in Cornwall. Thanks to Watertite Yeovil Local school facilities were also upgraded to accommodate refugees by this same team before they returned to the UK.

Actions Beyond Words, the very beginnings of our Medyka base as the space was cleared
Toilets and sinks installed, the process begins.. Cornish company travelled thousands of miles for UK.
Initial preparations being to create Actions Beyond Words base in Medyka, equipment moved in, and pallet racking removed.
Supplies for the initial install of sanitary ware for the new Actions Beyond Words base in Medyka are delivered.

However, the plumbing team faced challenges meeting the electrical requirements for the showers and heaters. A glimmer of hope emerged when a friend at Tesco Distribution Centre connected them with Wójcik, an electrical wizard whose skills were nothing short of magical. Wójcik soon became an integral part of the project, and with his expertise, progress surged. One wire and connection at a time, the space began to take shape. Wójcik stayed for months, later venturing to Ukraine to work on generator supplies as the demands on the Ukrainian power infrastructure escalated due to increased attacks.

Guided by a remarkable trio—Tony, Tim, and Fab—the team embarked on a transformative journey. They dedicated nearly three weeks of tireless work, with Tony even sleeping in the building during construction. Initially damp, dirty, and abandoned, the warehouse gradually transformed into a liveable space with heating and cooling systems. Decisions had to be made swiftly amidst the continuous influx of refugees, which always had to be the priority.

Dream team trio of Tim, Tony & Fab working on the bathroom construction of the Actions Beyond Words volunteer base in Medyka
Tony, master carpenter and volunteer completing dry wall for the bathrooms, showers and toilets for the Actions Beyond Words base in Medyka, Poland
Toilets and shower rooms begin to take shape in the Actions Beyond Words base, Medyka, Poland

As the project progressed, volunteers assumed various roles and made contributions of all sizes. Generous donors provided essential items such as appliances and bedding. The space became more functional, allowing the team to move in after four weeks, despite the initial lack of mattresses. Thank you so much, Alice and Simon, for generously utilisng a portion of their crowdfunding to provide the initial six mattresses for the team.

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  • Nathan Mullaney and Alex Clowes starting the painting at Actions Beyond Words Medyka Base
  • Fab sealing up the the ceiling where the broken lights had been removed
  • Watching the paint dry as we get ready to 2nd coat
  • Time to make good where we ripped down the old dry wall
  • Installation of spilt heating cooling units at Actions Beyond Words Medyka Base
  • Our very own wizard Wortek returns in 2023 - forever a legend.
  • A bathroom beginning to take shape at Actions Beyond Words base in Medyka - so close to moving in
  • Happy tied volunteers sit on the floor of their new home... just a place to call home
  • Our very own wizard Wortek returns in 2023 - forever a legend.
  • Kitchen/ Living space it the Actions Beyond Words base in Medyka begins to take shape.
  • All the boys are hoovering into the early hours at the Actions Beyond Words base in Medyka
  • Alex Clowes Mission Ukraine / Actions beyond words, prepares lino for fitting to the kitchen area.
  • Nathan Mullaney, Alex Clowes and Simon Massey installing lino into the Actions Beyonds Words Medyka base at 02:00!!

“Right from the start, we were 100% transparent allocation of funds for this remarkable project, ensuring that donations would be specifically designated to its requirements, distinct from the funds dedicated to the broader refugee endeavour,” Simon emphasised.

Over time, the building underwent refinement and ultimately transformed into a fully functional, co-ed dormitory-style space with 12 beds. Essential amenities were carefully installed, and the ongoing rental support provided by WDRAC in Japan played a critical role in ensuring the project’s long-term sustainability. It is worth noting that Akira Nagao leads WDRAC, and it remains remarkable that Simon, Travis, and Akira have yet to meet, exemplifying the collaborative nature and trust that transcends geographical boundaries. The success of the project can be directly attributed to the unwavering dedication of volunteers and the extraordinary generosity displayed by supporters worldwide.

Massey expresses extreme gratitude to everyone involved and acknowledges the remarkable impact of collaboration, empathy, and resilience. The journey from an empty warehouse to a thriving volunteer base stands as a testament to the unwavering commitment to the people of Ukraine. With each passing day, “84” continues to evolve, presenting new possibilities and an uncertain future. In November 2023, ABW acquired a new warehouse on the same complex to effectively handle donated goods from across Europe.. “84” just celebrated its first birthday and as we sign off, perhaps you’re left wondering, “Why 84”? It’s as simple as you’d expect, It’s the number on the front of the unit, sometimes the simplest solutions are the best!


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    Tony adkins

    Reply June 4, 2023 9:54 pm

    Wonderful crew wonderful people nothing else in mind but to help those in need led by the great Simon who led like a trooper

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    Reply June 4, 2023 10:14 pm

    The coordination to manage this is remarkable. Watching from the UK, via intermittent live broadcasts the effort was clear to see. Making a dramatic difference and continuing to provide in the presence of large corporate facilities is awe inspiring. These volunteers, those that have given time, funds, skills and love to the innocent casualties in these atrocious times, Thank you.

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    Akira Nagao

    Reply June 4, 2023 11:37 pm

    I remembered what happened in Medyka last March when we started our activities.
    I really admire your courage in starting this activity.
    WDRAC will continue to provide logistical support from Japan. I wish you safety and fulfilment on the front lines.

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