black modern real estate just sold instagram post 1

Dedication & Passion: One Incredibly Special Week

As February’s curtain was poised to fall, and another leap year bestowed its extra day by way of the encore, the headquarters of Actions Beyond Words (ABW) pulsed with energy. Laughter filled the air, plans were drawn, and the gentle hum of Google Translate echoed around the room. Within these walls, a remarkable collaboration unfolded, bringing together aid organizations from six countries in solidarity with Ukraine. Among them, the War Disaster Reconstruction Assistance Centre (WDRAC), a steadfast partner of ABW, journeying from Japan to join forces and solidify their support at the ABW HQ in Poland. As we reflect on these extraordinary days and the strides we’ve taken together, enjoy reading about these shared achievements.

Yuzo and Abe-Chan, members of WDRAC, unloading shopping carts of humanitarian supplies into an ABW van to be delivered to communities in need
A view out of the front window of the ABW van on an overcast day driving down the highway. Abe-Chan is visible in the left hand side of the frame driving with great focus.
WDRAC members Akira and Abe-Chan speaking to a local Ukrainian during an aid drop off inside of their facility. A small brown dog is seen in the bottom of the frame and Abe-Chan is seen glancing down at it.

Embarking on an onerous journey spanning continents and time zones, the WDRAC team passed through the Middle East and onward to Europe, ultimately reaching Medyka, Poland after a two-day trek, each member charting their path from their homes in Japan. Despite battling jetlag and, for many, experiencing their inaugural voyage to Eastern Europe, they arrived excited and ready to be part of the on-the-ground humanitarian effort for the first time since the war began. Joined by ABW team members Simon, Travis, Charlie, and Andre, the group wasted no time immersing themselves in their tasks. They prepared the Polish storage facilities to receive more humanitarian aid and arranged for the delivery of a second dental suite to Eastern Ukraine. Over a span of just four intense days, our headquarters buzzed with activity almost around the clock, as we endeavoured to synchronize our body clocks to a common time zone. Early mornings and long days became the standard fare, with three crossings into Ukraine covering thousands of miles. The team received comprehensive training in HQ and storage logistics, border crossing procedures, and hands-on delivery of vital aid to displaced Ukrainians sheltering in western Ukraine. Our Japanese friends and colleagues even had the opportunity to experience driving UK vans on European roads and navigating roundabouts with skill. Upon accomplishing their goals, they joined forces with other international humanitarians in Lviv, sharing hugs and stories as they continued their work. Nothing could dampen their spirits. With our allies at Nada-Nord securing over €30,000 in aid for the project, the pace remained frenetic as we tirelessly pursued our objectives against the clock.

WDRAC has been more than just a supporter; they’ve been a crucial part of our journey. From the beginning of the war, they’ve stood by our side, helping us navigate the financial challenges of running our HQ for over two years. Through their efforts, we’ve been able to focus on our mission without worrying if would have a roof over our heads for the volunteers giving freely of their time – not without risk

WDRAC‘s support isn’t just financial; it’s personal; it embodies a deeply personal commitment. Imagine the profound impact when an organization from halfway across the globe extends unwavering support based solely on a connection through a mutual acquaintance. What began as virtual meetings on platforms like Zoom and WhatsApp quickly evolved into genuine friendships extending beyond the confines of professional relationships.

Then, out of the blue, Akira reached out to us, expressing his heartfelt desire to visit in person. It was a turning point; our connection became profoundly personal. Akira didn’t just offer continued support; he immersed himself in our world, driving the vans he had helped fund. Although we had some amusing mishaps—like the need to educate our Japanese supporters about roundabouts before letting them navigate roundabouts/traffic circles—the experience was enlightening.

As Akira departed after his initial visit, we stood together at the Rzeszow airport, promising to reunite. He expressed his desire to return, this time with his daughters, so they could experience firsthand the realities and emotions of being and working in Ukraine. While the November reunion was postponed due to safety concerns amidst the intense bombardment, our resolve remained strong.

Although Akira’s daughters didn’t join him on his subsequent trip in February 2024, we eagerly anticipate the day we can welcome them into our ABW family. Through Akira, we have met three remarkable individuals whom we’re proud to call members of the ABW / WDRAC collaboration and are privileged to count as dear friends.

WDRAC has also run countless crowdfunding campaigns, showing the power of the Japanese community and solidarity with ABW & Ukraine. WDRAC raised over $10,000 to replace our beloved van, ‘Bessie’, after she met her end on the brutal roads of Ukraine. Moreover, they recently raised $6000 to provide food support for animal shelters, which remain in dire need. Their dedication and generosity have made a real difference, and we couldn’t be more grateful.

Every moment spent together was mind-blowing – exploring our passions, humour, and cultures, intertwined with lively discussions about unique culinary delights from our respective homelands. Gathered around tables we shared meals, exchanged stories and unpacked the events of the day, supporting each other and most importantly building new friendships and fortifying old ones.

Meet these four incredible individuals who stepped out of their comfort zones and into the unknown, trading in the familiar for ‘the ‘play it by ear’ and never knowing what would be around the next corner.

Akira crouching down to pet a friendly black dog that is enjoying being pet on a walkway through a park in Ukraine
Abe-Chan at the wheel of the ABW van looking focused on the road ahead
Hoshi-San, aka "Star Man" smiling and looking down as he holds a string of pepperoni he purchased in Ukraine
Hoshi-San aka “Star Man”
Yuzo crouched down holding up a camera as she prepares to take a photo. She's looking up at the camera that took her picture with a smile.
  • Akira, a man of diverse talents and roles, who effortlessly navigates through various domains like a true ninja. Hailing from Japan, Akira has more hats than Gandalf – he’s an accomplished author with several published books and serves as the director of Nagao Learning Labo Corporation, the War Disaster Reconstruction Assistance Center, and Morai Gakuen Educational Corporation. Despite his heavy schedule, Akira exudes dedication to his professional responsibilities while also carving out time to host engaging podcasts for WDRAC, often right from the breakfast table amidst the hustle of the day. Beyond his professional endeavours, Akira’s personable nature shines through. During our brief moments of downtime at ABW headquarters, he warmly shared glimpses of his family life, sharing cherished photos and videos of his children as they grew up. Akira embodies a rare blend of professionalism and approachability, making him a remarkable figure in both his personal and professional spheres.

  • Masayo, a first-time visitor to ABW headquarters, arrived with a rich history of supporting Ukraine. Her past endeavours include volunteering in Romania to aid displaced persons and organizing fundraisers in Japan for further humanitarian assistance. Masayo now leads our team for volunteering in multiple countries to support Ukraine—a testament to her unwavering commitment. However, this should be no surprise, as her remarkable achievements extend beyond her humanitarian efforts. Known affectionately as Abe-Chan, she is also a Gold Medal-winning world champion in rafting Despite her numerous accolades, Abe-Chan’s humility and compassion shine through. Abe-Chan listens – A LOT !  Taking it all in then and waiting to impart that knowledge at the perfect moment, her dedication has left an indelible mark on our team. Back home in Japan, she continues to support the next generation of Japanese rafters, guiding them to reclaim the championship crown that she once held. Abe-Chan shared with us the realities of re-joining life in bustling Japan and trying to find time amidst her busy schedule to connect with family and friends to share her experiences and stories with those closest to her, whilst reflecting on how very valuable the experiences in Ukraine were personally.

  • Hoshi-San, affectionately known as “Star Man,” is a fitting nickname derived from the Japanese characters of his surname “星”, which translates to “star.” He shone brightly, illuminating each day with his infectious laughter and unwavering positivity. As the master of the cameras, adorned with two crossed-strapped DSLRs, almost like a uniform, along with his amazing double-facing GoPros, captured moments with finesse and conducted interviews that will be so valuable to share the ABW story. Hoshi-San is a seasoned website designer and photographer, successfully managing his own companies. Additionally, he shares his wealth of knowledge through lectures and consultancy in Employee training. Hoshi-San’s presence is indeed a genuine delight; his warmth and charisma have the power to light up any room he enters. This was especially evident during our humanitarian efforts in Ukraine, where his compassion shone through, wearing his heart on his sleeve. In Hoshi-San, we’ve found not just a colleague, but a source of inspiration and joy

  • Yuzo, a dynamic force of energy whose vibrant personality radiates joy wherever she goes. With a zest for life that rivals the effervescence of champagne, at an exponential power per ml, she infuses every moment with bounce and positivity. While back home in Japan, Yuzo’s professional endeavours may surprise you, they surprised us —she’s deeply immersed in the craft beer industry. Yuzo’s passion for media in all its forms is palpable. As the head of PR for WDRAC, she plays a pivotal role in shaping their online presence and social content. Notably, she deftly manages their podcast, recording and editing episodes on the fly, even in the most chaotic of circumstances. Yuzo’s formed deep connections within the Ukrainian communities she visited. Particularly moving were the bonds she forged with young Ukrainian females seeking refuge from the ravages of war. Yuzo’s presence brought hope and catalyzed profound transformations in lives and mindsets. As a testament to her experiences, Yuzo has created a video documenting her time in Ukraine she harbours hopes of expanding her documentation into an exhibition or photo book—stay tuned for more details

As with many cherished experiences, they eventually reach their conclusion, often sooner than anyone would like. Yet, the lasting impact of their presence remains, a testament to their unwavering dedication. Working alongside such an incredible group of individuals was truly a privilege, both personally and professionally. Despite taking a leap of faith in this enormous cultural melting pot, in a converted warehouse in Poland, I know we all believe the synergy achieved was remarkable. We eagerly anticipate the opportunity to be together soon in the future and extend our sincerest gratitude for the ongoing support in our shared mission to STAND WITH UKRAINE.

No Comments

Post a Comment