TAMPA, FLA. — A Tampa attorney traveled to the Polish-Ukrainian border to help refugees who left everything behind.
"Hopefully, I brought some love and compassion. I really just wanted the people there to see people all around the world do care for them," said attorney Mark Wright.
Last week, Wright returned home after spending a week in Poland. He provided assistance at a humanitarian aid center.
"I came in on a Saturday afternoon and I started in Warsaw," he said.
Later that week, he went to the border. He passed out water, food, medical supplies to the refugees. He handed out soccer balls to the children.
"Soccer balls, I joke, was the international language of love and smiles. I wish I would have brought more. We made two trips to the sports store nearby," said Wright.
Wright said he wanted to help out after seeing images on the news of people suffering. He visited Poland once before in 1988. He was part of a six week law school program.
"I've been to Poland many, many years ago and when I went to Poland this time, it is a modern, clean city. All of the Polish people that I met were warm. They were supportive. They were helpful," he said.
Wright wrote about the humanitarian mission when he returned home. In a 12 page document, he writes about what he did and who he met. At one point, he wrote, "Can you imagine leaving home with nothing more than the clothes on your back and in need of a pair of shoes, some socks, or a warm winter coat?"
"You can only bring what you can carry and some people just carried their pets. They left everything else behind," said Wright.
Wright said he witnessed more emotional trauma than physical.
"You could see it in their eyes. You could see it in their face. You could hear it in their voice how things were terrible and so desperate, but how appreciative they were," he said.
"I think people appreciate some kindness, some smiles and appreciated some love," added Wright.
Wright traveled to the border as part of a trip sponsored by the Jewish Federations of North America. He wanted to see the conditions along the border and provide humanitarian assistance to refugees.
"It was a special time that I will never forget for the rest of my life," said Wright.
"It's such an eye-opening experience to see these people first-hand to see the pain they're going through."