Stuck in the snow, flu and the sound of bombing in the background: Franky van Hintum and Coen van Oosten look back on their ninth and “fiercest Ukraine trip so far’. The two french fries makers are back again from another mission in the war-torn country.
Collapsed bridges and the sound of explosions in the distant background, the videos shown by the fryers when they returned home are impressive. At Christmas time, the two again handed out some 9,500 French fries portions and 7,500 snacks to war victims.
The air alarm went off more often than ever
“Russia’s terrible attacks make many Ukrainians live in hell! We have seen that many people are really hungry because of that,” knows Franky van Hintum from Helmond. “One old woman told me crying that she had lost her house.”
It was the ninth time the duo headed to Ukraine with their mobile French fry cart. Several trips they stayed at the Polish-Ukrainian border, four times they actually entered the country of war. So too now: on December 18, they arrived in the western city of Lviv, and traveled on to Bucha and the Kharkov region, among others.
Alone and very far from home
The 54-year-old french fry baker spent days in bed while being in Ukraine, with the flu and therefore could not work “It was terrible. I felt very alone and far from home,” said Franky, still coughing slightly on the phone. “Fortunately, Coen saved the business and together with volunteers they managed to keep the stall running.”
The snow made the trip extra difficult. The fry duo got stuck several times with their heavy trailer. One time when they were on their way to a children’s home. “The roads were impassable,” says Coen van Oosten (50) from Waspik. “For a moment I thought we weren’t going to make it. Local residents pulled us out of the snow with tow trucks.” The two are full of stories after their trip. They have just been home for a few days. “At a military hospital, we handed out hundreds of sausages, candy and other treats. We also gave away 2,500 gifts.”
Thumbs up is addictive
Despite everything, the two companions look back on their adventure more than satisfied, especially with the reactions they received from refugees. Franky: “That’s something we can never feel in our normal lives. The smiles when we give people a snack or a gift, that’s indescribable.”
Their first trip was in March 2022 and the two are having a foundation with a website now: “The Franky and Coen into the Breach foundation’. They will take a rest for a few days before planning their next trip. “We want to go back again anyway,” Coen says determinedly. That won’t be until February at the earliest. “It’s never finished. The thumbs up are addictive.”
Source: Omroep Brabant