Superchargers for Superheroes

Tesla
wensrit 
8th ride
to Poland 
May 7, 2022
Injustice

I can't stand it. So when Russia decided to invade Ukraine, I immediately joined a demonstration on Dam Square in Amsterdam, holding a pamphlet stating: "I stand with Ukraine." Of course Putin didn't care at all and I followed all developments in the news about the war, feeling somewhat helpless.

Not long after, I read a Facebook message about an organization. It went to Poland using Tesla's to bring relief supplies and drove back with Ukrainian people to take them to a safe place at e host family or different type of shelter in the Netherlands. How interesting! I wondered: Could I participate? Does my car have enough range to drive that far without any problems? Can I handle this emotionally? And then I spotted a beautiful red Tesla model S at the Tesla Supercharger in Naarden and it had stickers of this organization: Tesla wensrit (Tesla wish ride). After a conversation with driver Oskar I was convinced: I'm going to participate! This weekend was my third time. And I'll keep doing this as long as it is needed

Preparation

 

The weekend before departure I go to the central storage in Hendrik-Ido-Ambacht to fill my car with boxes of rice with Peter’s help. There are enough goods to fill many cars, and in the WhatsApp group I read that a lot of Tesla drivers will also come and pick up things that are needed in the refugee centers in Poland. This time we take rice, pasta, cans of soup, but also toothpaste and baby food. Another driver has loaded his car with animal feed – that is also badly needed. We also raise funds in all kinds of ways to be able to do more shopping locally in Poland.

Enjoying the ride

Net zoals de eerste twee keren kies ik ervoor om een dag eerder te vertrekken. Zo breek ik de heenreis in tweeën en hoop ik zowel mentaal als fysiek goed voorbereid aan te komen. Het voelt altijd een beetje dubbel: ik ben dol op autorijden, dus ik verheug me enorm op deze rit. Af en toe lijkt het alsof ik op vakantie ga. Ik zoek een mooi plekje uit om te overnachten in de buurt van Lehre. Vanwege de supercharger en omdat het een ontmoetingspunt is voor veel bestuurders. Ik geniet nog even van een wandelingetje bij zonsondergang. Vervolgens komt er van slapen toch niet zo heel veel. In mijn hoofd herbeleef ik de eerdere ritten en ben ik benieuwd naar wie ik als passagiers mee terug mag nemen.

There
we
go

My first stop this Friday is at the supercharger near Berlin - a few cars with Tesla wensrit stickers on them are already there and charging. It is a beautiful, warm summery day and I join the other drivers to have something to eat and drink while I wait for my Tesla to be fully charged.

On the way on the Polish toll road we suddenly find ourselves in a traffic jam. It turns out an accident has happened. Next to us is a row of military vehicles. It looks like they are French soldiers - heading towards, well, where exactly? An exercise or really to Ukraine? It looks impressive and at the same time there is the reminder: there is a war going on. That's why we are on our way.

Once we have arrived in Poznan (with much more kilometers left in the battery than in previous trips due to the warm weather) we deliver the goods to a central location near the station. We are welcomed with open arms and our goods are speedily removed from the cars and put on pallets in the right place until it is going to be used. Coordinator Franciszek takes us on a tour of the facility and tells us there are 1000 active volunteers so the location can be manned 24/7. Every day Ukrainian refugees come to register, ask for advice, seek legal or medical assistance, find a place to sleep. We see the counters, a place where people can 'shop' for clothes, a play corner where young children play together and people who have sat down for a while. There is a room with beds available for emergencies, for people who cannot go anywhere yet, but people are not supposed to sleep in this center otherwise. It is a registration and information center. Children's drawings from all over the world, which have been sent along with donations, hang on the walls. You might think this is a community center, but the seriousness of the situation can be felt continuously and can be read on the faces of the people who come in.

There are now almost 3 million refugees in Poland, of which the town of Poznan has taken in about 60,000. With a population of 550,000 that is quite a lot. And when you realize that the Netherlands wants to offer space to 50,000 Ukrainian refugees…. That is the well-known drop in the ocean. Our help in goods, money and the relocation of refugees is therefore so valued by the Caritas organization in Poznan that Robert-Jan receives an official certificate of thanks for the Tesla wensrit Foundation.

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Poznan

Na het opnieuw laden van de auto’s en een hapje eten vertrekken we naar drie locaties om met onze Tesla’s de kinderen die daar verblijven wat op te vrolijken. Bij een weeshuis dat ook tijdelijk vluchtelingen opvangt spelen de kinderen in de model X van Hendrik en mijn model S (leve de Arcade) en neemt Jeroen ze om de beurt mee om na ‘3 -2 -1-Go!’ te laten beleven hoe snel een model 3 op kan trekken. De aanwezige moeders en begeleiders nemen foto’s van hun kinderen in de auto’s en bedanken ons hartelijk voor deze afleiding. Als dan ook nog Tom en Peter arriveren met snoep en chocolade, is het helemaal goed. Ook op de andere locaties zijn de kinderen blij verrast met het bezoek van de Tesla’s. Na het doorspreken van de dag met een drankje in de bar van het hotel is het dan tijd om te gaan slapen. Al lukt dat de één wat beter dan de ander, natuurlijk.

Back
to
the Netherlands

Saturday morning, at 7 o'clock we have breakfast. Anetta - our super volunteer who speaks the language and coordinates everything tirelessly - has been in contact with the people who want to travel with us to the Netherlands. This time we pick up 28 people from the registration center: 17 women, 9 children, 2 men and one dog. Unfortunately a number of people had become ill otherwise we could have taken at least 10 more with us. Because it is busy and there is little space for all our cars, we stop along the way to reorganize. I get to bring along a mother with her 7 year old son. They only have two small backpacks and a plastic bag for luggage. He likes to sit in the front (on the booster seat) and takes everything in. The mother sits in the back and tries to contact the people (her family and friends) she had to leave behind in Ukraine. I feel the tension and relaxation. Away from Poland, even further away from home. But first: some rest. After the first charging stop near Berlin, where we also have lunch, they both fall asleep, now together in the backseat. I keep an eye on things through the rear-view mirror. I drive as smoothly as possible so as not to startle them awake.

When they are awake again, the mother shares some of her experiences. She, like others we bring along, comes from a city that has been in the news a lot because of the Russian army’s unwelcome behaviour. She’s been away from home for two weeks. When I ask her if it was difficult to decide to travel with us to the Netherlands, she replies that once you are away from home and cannot return, it is not difficult at all to make such decisions. She wants to work to help her family in Ukraine and she wants her son to find a quiet, peaceful place and for him to be able to go to school. She says she has always been used to helping others and now finds it quite difficult to have to be on the receiving end herself. This Sunday is Mother’s Day in the Netherlands and I am taking this young mother further away from her own mother, who cannot or will not leave because she has an animal shelter. How stupid and unnecessary this war is. I see the tears in her eyes, feel her sadness and powerlessness and I focus my eyes on the road again…

At the end of the afternoon and we drive through a huge downpour. I slow down and at about 60 km/h I can just see the taillights of Robert-Jan's car in front of me. Then suddenly we stop again and a little later we see that the Mercedes that overtook us earlier at high speed has slammed into the guardrail and has a particularly wrinkled front. We continue in the left lane and fortunately arrive safely and with dry weather at the supercharger in Emsbüren, Germany.

We have a bit to eat McDonalds and it is here my family transfers to Oskar's car. Together with the people in Robert-Jan's car, they leave for host families in Drenthe and Friesland, provinces in the eastern and northern part of the Netherlands. The mother takes me aside to thank me and calls us superheroes with tears in her eyes. A big hug later and a big smile from the son I wave goodbye to them. I stay in my car for a while to let the experiences of this ride sink in. A little later, Peter, Yvonne and Tom and their passengers arrive at their charged cars again to continue on towards Utrecht. I'm still there and apparently I still look a bit upset. I am really just feeling grateful that I can contribute to helping Ukrainian refugees this way, in this unnecessary war.

Women


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Children


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Men


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Animals


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See you later!

Ik rijd in anderhalf uur naar huis, alleen, met muziek op bijzonder luid en verbaas me erover hoe snel deze Tesla wensrit alweer voorbij is. Wanneer gaan we weer?

Om Stichting Tesla wensrit in staat te stellen dit mooie werk te kunnen blijven doen, zijn donaties hard nodig en daarom van harte welkom! En heb je een Tesla? Overweeg om eens mee te rijden!

Tot ziens?!

Deze bijdrage is geschreven door onze vrijwilligster Marianne Siegmann.

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