TU Delft student is picking up his fleeing family

Aerospace Engineering student Adriaan Ploeg has left for the Ukraine border by car to collect his family members in Romania who fled the war.

In Romania, aid organisations are ready to help refugees from Ukraine. (Photo: Adriaan Ploeg)

“My niece has been on the road for two days trying to get from Mariupol to Western Europe. Her child got ill along the way, vomited and became dehydrated. While the air raid siren was going off they went looking for a children’s clinic where their child could be treated in the shelter.”

From the car in Romania, where Adriaan Ploeg (Aerospace Engineering), his father, brother, friend (also a TU Delft student) and an acquaintance, drove to pick up his grandfather, aunts and nieces, he twittered (in Dutch) about what he and his family went through in the last few days.

He told about how his nephews were called on to defend their country, had voluntarily signed up for the people’s resistance army and the sorrow felt by the families they left behind. “I feel a deep pain in my heart when I see on Facetime how they – men of my age – say goodbye to their wives, children and other family members.”

Air-raid shelter
The student is in constant contact with family and affected friends. “We are trying to keep track of who is where. Family members who are still in Ukraine are constantly moving from one air-raid shelter to the next because of the continuous threats. But as the internet does not always work, we sometimes hear nothing at all for a long time and we just have to guess where they are.”

“One of my aunts is stuck in Kharkiv. They tried to leave twice on Thursday but were turned back by an attack both times. They then stopped trying and have now spent two days in an air-raid shelter. Her children spent 15 hours just trying to leave the city.”

Refugee flow
He heard terrible stories from a nephew that is helping coordinate the flow of refugees at the border with Romania about kilometres of abandoned cars, enormous numbers of people heading towards the border and small children that were handed over to total strangers. 

In reply to the question what the fleeing Ukrainians need at the moment, he thinks of essential goods. “On the ground help for people crossing the border is there.”

He talks about his aunt who, after two days of waiting in a traffic jam at the border, sent an emotional message in which she wrote about being overwhelmed by the number of people who were waiting with blankets, water, food and shelter.

“We see that a lot of people are supportive of the refugees. We hope that this willingness to help keeps going and that when the asylum seekers crisis eventually reaches the Netherlands in a few weeks or months, that Ukrainians and other refugees will be welcomed with a warm heart and a good plan.”
Return journey
Adriaan is now reunited with some of his family. Their journey back to the Netherlands was delayed though because the car broke down. While waiting for the mechanic, they see busloads of women and young children crossing the border.

The worry about the family left behind in Ukraine still gnaws. “We receive messages from family from all over the country. They are being shot at or are in air-raid shelters yet again.”

Thanks to his project group, Adriaan could skip two meetings and do some work at a distance. “I have to miss a midterm on Monday. I will have to see how I can do it later. I can’t concentrate on it now anyway.” 

  • Through Twitter (in Dutch), Adriaan is reporting on his journey and what he is seeing along the way. He also describes the situation in Ukraine through the eyes of his family members.

Collection Students for Ukraine
The relief effort is now up and running at TU Delft. The Students for Ukraine collective, that consists of 200 students from various Dutch universities, is collecting goods for all Ukrainians in need. One of the collection points is the Delta Editorial Office. You are welcome to donate goods every day from 09:00 to 17:00 up to Friday 4 March. The first full lorry will depart for Ukraine in a week.

Our Editorial Office is located in the TU Delft Library on the ground floor. Enter the Library through the main entrance and follow the blue wall on the left-hand side. Go through the door and take the stairs downstairs. The Editorial Office is on the right-hand side.

News editor Marjolein van der Veldt

Do you have a question or comment about this article?

Comments are closed.