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Coronado chef returns home after month-long aid mission at Ukrainian border

Coronado chef returns home after month-long aid mission at Ukrainian border
Posted at 5:07 PM, Apr 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-08 20:18:29-04

CORONADO, Calif. (KGTV) - A Coronado chef is recounting his journey after a month of helping and cooking for refugees in Poland.

When the bombs started falling in Ukraine, the images of the destruction and the refugees haunted Miguel Abed.

“All the suffering. It came to a point where it was a little too much for me. I got off the couch and booked my ticket,” said Abed.

A classically trained chef who has worked in France, Abed signed up with the nonprofit World Central Kitchen, ending up in Przemysl, Poland, close to the Ukrainian border. For more than a week, he helped set up a kitchen and cooked.

“We were doing all kinds of local dishes—borscht, local soups, stews—something that could easily be served out of these big containers,” said Abed.

For the next few weeks, he was at the border, helping distribute food and beverages, right after refugees crossed. Thousands came through each day.

“They arrived very tired and rough shape, cold and hungry,” said Abed.

He recalls one family, a mother and her children, who had walked for three days in freezing weather, with only a few protein bars between them.

“As soon on they started eating that hot food, a complete change in their faces and demeanor … It was a very emotional to see, but we were very happy to help them,” said Abed.

As he volunteered, he had a chance to speak with many of them.

"Very inspiring to see then, how much strength and resilience they have … They were very grateful. I mean, they give you hugs. I had little girls give me lollipops,” said Abed.

In his off time, he used funds from a Gofundme campaign to buy supplies for the refugees, including luggage and sweaters for the pets.

Meanwhile, his volunteer stint grew from the planned one week to nearly a month.

“My last day, I got into car, and I started crying … You feel very attached, so it's hard to leave,” said Abed. “What I took away was seeing the power of humanity. There were people from all across the world helping. It was inspiring to see people coming together to help people in need."

Abed ending up traveling to Warsaw for five days to help refugees find temporary housing, before returning home.

If the war is still going on, he's hoping to go back to Poland to volunteer again in May.