Texas cop scraps French Riviera vacation to help Ukrainian refugees instead
"How can I take a picture on a French beach when there is a war in Europe?" said Lt. Pawel Nabialek
By Elizabeth Campbell
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
KRAKOW, Poland — Pawel Nabialek planned to spend his vacation on the French Riviera and in Barcelona to watch a soccer match, but he scrapped his beach vacation to help Ukrainian refugees fleeing to Poland.
Nabialek, a lieutenant with the Fort Worth police department, is spending his three-week vacation in Poland, where he was born, to help the women and children fleeing Ukraine to get to safe places.
"How can I take a picture on a French beach when there is a war in Europe?" he said. Nabialek landed in Krakow on March 14, bringing emergency first aid supplies, including tourniquets, knives, ponchos and tactical flashlights. He brought the supplies to the Ukraine border to help the soldiers.
He then rented a car and went to a refugee center at the border, where he registered as a driver to take women and children to safe places.
The family Nabialek met was a mother and son and the mother's sister. He knew immediately that he had to gain their trust.
He showed them his passport, explained that he was a police officer and offered to become Facebook friends.
"They were shellshocked. They had PTSD from the bomb alerts going off," he said.
As they drove from the Ukraine border, the emergency alerts warning of an air raid were sounding on their phones, Nabialek said.
The family wanted to go to a farm about four hours from Warsaw.
Pawel Nabialek planned to spend his vacation on the French Riviera and in Barcelona to watch a soccer match, but he scrapped his beach vacation to help Ukrainian refugees fleeing to Poland. https://t.co/wkMvO0A0ni— Fort Worth Star-Telegram (@startelegram) March 17, 2022
Nabialek called ahead and spoke to the farmer in Polish, but his instincts as a police officer kicked in, as he did not like the "bad vibes" and the direction of the conversation.
It was a work arrangement where the woman was supposed to work on a tomato farm, Nabialek said.
"After 13 years as a police officer, I said guys, I can't leave you here. He was talking about the family like they were subhuman," Nabialek said.
He drove the family back to Warsaw and paid for a hotel room and told the family there were far more organizations to provide help and more opportunities in Warsaw.
"They were so tired; they hadn't slept in days and days," he said.
Nabialek was quick to point out that Poland and the Polish people have shown incredible generosity and compassion toward the women and children coming from Ukraine.
Nabialek said his relatives in Poland are also helping where they can. His uncle is taking beans, rice and other food into Ukraine.
Nabialek has a Go Fund Me page, but he is encouraging people to donate to charities in Poland working with the Ukrainian refugees.
When Nabialek saw that Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, he was shocked by what he saw on news reports.
Nabialek said he has gotten tremendous support from other police officers and from Tabernacle of Praise Church in Kennedale.
Asked if he planned to go to Ukraine, Nabialek said he promised his family that he wouldn't.
The Polish and Americans have a responsibility to help the refugees, he said.
"If the men are going to stay and fight, we should take are of their women and children," he said.
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