A vacation means rest and relaxation for most people – but not Richmondite Amy Hung.
Hung just returned home after a week doing volunteer work at the Poland-Ukraine border.
"It has been such a rewarding journey, and it was a huge blessing to me to meet people there and serve their needs," said Hung.
She told the Richmond News that the past week changed her in ways she would have never expected and has left her with lasting memories.
Hung had been working as a volunteer with an international humanitarian team under Operation Mobilization (OM), a global Christian organization with thousands of offices worldwide. OM has been calling for people to respond to the needs of Ukrainian refugees since Russia invaded Ukraine at the end of February.
The place Hung volunteered is called Chelm - a city in southeastern Poland - a two-and-half hour train ride from Warsaw, the capital of Poland.
On her first day, Hung joined other volunteers to give out kids' gift packs and toys to children who arrived at the border in buses and vans.
For these children, these gift packages symbolize hope and love, explained Hung.
"Inside the gift packs, we have toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, chocolates, snacks and juice boxes. We have three different packages to meet little girls, boys and infants' needs," said Hung.
In addition to handing out packages, Hung also spent time with children, trying to make them feel comforted and more at home.
Hung went with the intention of making life better for others. She didn’t realize how much better she would make her own life as well.
"One young girl followed behind her parents to return to the bus, but then she suddenly returned and asked me: 'Can I have a hug?' I hugged her, and it's quite amazing. Words are powerless to describe such feeling," said Hung, whose eyes filled with tears at the memory.
Some people crossing the border were sporting Canadian flags, said Hung.
They asked her where Canada is and what Canada looks like.
"I told them that although my country is far away from Ukraine, Canadians are super friendly, kind and we are always happy to help others," said Hung.
But Canadians weren’t the only ones helping out. Groups and individuals from other European countries were also there, she explained.
Hung recalls a Polish couple who would stand at the border every day handing out sim cards to refugees. Meanwhile, a group of Hungarian firefighters helped those fleeing physically move their luggage and things across the border.
"It was a pretty humbling experience to meet people and get to know each other. All volunteers have one goal, which is to serve without asking so much in return.
"After coming back home, I feel the problems and challenges we face daily are nothing compared to what they are struggling with," said Hung.
Hung said she hopes talking about her experience will inspire more people to give back to the community they live in -- or even to the world at large.