ESCONDIDO, Calif. (KGTV) — "It makes me feel good if I think about it," shares Oleksandr Shumishyn. "But it's all overshadowed by the negativity the negativity of what's actually going on."
The Escondido business owner who went to Ukraine to help has now returned.
Shumishyn says that in late February when he saw Russian forces close into the city where his nine-year-old daughter still lives, there was no question he would go.
"In 30 hours a lot of things can change," Shumishyn explains. "And I decided that I needed to be there on the ground and available."
Shumishyn and his friends gathered what they could and took off on March 4, not knowing what they would be greeted with.
"I expected to be scared more," shares Shumishyn. "But it's amazing how casual war becomes…the atmosphere of war, the panic, the chaos, people get used to it really quick."
He arrived in Ukraine to see humanitarian aid help with transportation for Ukrainians to get out of Moldova whether by car, train, or plane.
But what Shumishyn did not see was volunteers picking Ukrainians up from the border and bringing them into the city to be able to access that free transportation.
So he got two vans and got to work, "It's nine people at a time and it takes 2 and a half hours to take them there, and 2 and a half to take them back," he explains. "So if per day we could get two runs, that would be a good day."
But Shumishyn felt like he could do more. During runs, he would drop off food and medical supplies at the camps.
He gave so much, he lost count, "You lose a sense of everything, time, then next day and previous day."
Shumishyn explains that the biggest challenge was finding a network of people there to help assist in getting medicine that he did not have the qualifications for.
"They got things from warehouses that supply hospitals, which is very difficult," he shares. "Or pharmacies which supplies other pharmacies like warehouses."
Shumishyn returned to San Diego on Thursday. He says he needed to recharge, regroup and renew their funds.
While it has not been difficult to attend to his business and family, he is still thinking about all he saw.
"Seeing all the women and children that are absolutely lost. Their husbands, fathers and brothers are all in Ukraine and someone just took them across the border, put them on some bus to take them somewhere," illustrates Shumishyn. "And they have no control of it. Just looking at that it's unbelievable."
It is why he hopes to go back in two-three weeks. During this second trip, he wants to get more vans to not only be able to transport more people but give out more medical supplies.
As for his family, his nine-year-old daughter is safe in Odessa with her mother. While this first trip he hoped to bring her to San Diego, he hopes to bring her soon.
Shumishyn says while many people are wanting to buy and send donations from inside the United States, it takes weeks for them to receive them.
He says the most efficient ways to help are in monetary donations to trusted organizations or to those who are seeing the needs in person.
If you would like to donate to Shumishyn's GoFundMe, click here.