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Polish woman in UK running 48 miles in 48 hours to support Ukrainian mothers

Jolanta Hanstein’s GoFundMe challenge, raising money for Unicef, is in support of Ukrainian mothers on Mother’s Day in the UK.

27 March 2022

A Polish woman living in the UK is running 48 miles in 48 hours to celebrate Ukrainian mothers and to “show these women that we are here with them”.

Jolanta Hanstein, who moved to the UK 18 years ago, has raised more than £1,600 on the GoFundMe she launched in aid of charity Unicef to support Ukrainian children.

Ms Hanstein from Amersham, Buckinghamshire, is running four miles every four hours in two days, a challenge culminating on Mother’s Day, to show solidarity with mothers who remain in and have fled Ukraine.

“I just want to feel a fraction of that physical and mental challenge,” Ms Hanstein, an accountant, told the PA news agency.

Jolanta Hanstein
Jolanta Hanstein said: ‘I want to show those mums that we are with them’ (Jolanta Hanstein/PA)

“I’m not a runner and I’m pushing, but whatever I do, it’s nothing in comparison to what those mums are going through at the moment.

“I just want to be with them and support them and help them to protect their kids, the future generation.”

Ms Hanstein has an eight-year-old daughter and three-year-old son with her husband, Darryl.

She was inspired to start the fundraiser after seeing a picture of a pregnant woman being carried out of a maternity hospital on a stretcher in Mariupol, southeast Ukraine, which was the target of Russian bombing.

Medics working to save the mother and her child later revealed that both did not survive the attack.

“She was meant to be a mother and she didn’t have a chance to experience that,” Ms Hanstein said.

“For a mum, the labour and pregnancy, it’s tiring but it’s the best time in your life, giving new life… And they took that away from her.

“I thought, Mother’s Day is coming (in the UK)… I want to show those mums that we are with them, not on the front line and not next to them, but with our minds and efforts, we are with them.”

Ms Hanstein’s sister lives near the Ukrainian border in Poland and provides first-hand information on how refugees there are faring.

“I spoke to her a couple of days ago and she said the kids from Ukraine, they are going to Polish schools, trying to provide them with a bit of normal life,” she explained.

“She said, ‘Those kids hear a noise and they jump’.

“They don’t trust anyone, they are stressed and traumatised.”

Ms Hanstein’s runs have included outings at 2 o’clock in the morning as she has already completed eight out of 12 four-milers.

“It’s emotional and it’s very challenging, mentally… It’s so easy to say, ‘I don’t need to do that, I feel nice and cosy in my warm bed,’” she said.

“But I’ve got that luxury to make that decision to either stay in that warm bed, or go there and feel physical tiredness, and those mums they don’t have that.

“They feel much worse than I do all the time – and the worst part is they don’t know when it’s going to stop and what the outcome will be.”

Russian invasion of Ukraine
A solidarity march for Ukraine took place in London on Saturday (PA)

She added that it has been “so good” to see so much kindness from those wanting to help since Russia first invaded Ukraine on February 24.

“They support in various ways, money, clothes or services like the doctors, and it’s so good to see,” Ms Hanstein said.

“It gives you that hope in people that there’s so many kind people around.

“I just wanted to be part of that one way or another.”

To donate to Ms Hanstein’s GoFundMe, go to: www.gofundme.com/f/24ngrk-mothers-united

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