Johnny Devenanzio, higher identified to actuality TV followers as Johnny Bananas, is sharing the “harrowing” particulars from his expertise in Ukraine solely with Web page Six.
“Are you able to see the luggage below my eyes? I feel I’ve slept a complete of six hours within the days we’ve been right here,” he informed us final week through a FaceTime name from his resort, which was situated about an hour from the Ukrainian border.
The star of MTV’s “The Problem” obtained a name from a good friend of a good friend on March 12, asking if he’d be prepared to journey midway the world over to offer assist and reduction to Ukrainian refugees.
He flew out of Los Angeles the next day and was in Warsaw, Poland, by Monday – realizing nobody and having no concept what to anticipate.
“[I] went to the primary practice station on this facet of the Polish border, and the refugee disaster that’s happening there proper now’s simply, it’s insane,” Devenanzio, 39, informed us. “Individuals are warming themselves by trash cans which can be on hearth and [using] makeshift tents.”
He added, “These individuals had households, that they had houses, that they had jobs. And right here they’re every week later with nothing.”
The fact star was amongst a gaggle of people that joined forces with Humanosh, a corporation whose mission is to assist kids who dwell in “extraordinarily unlucky environments.”
When Russia invaded Ukraine final month, Humanosh expanded its efforts to offer “pressing assist” – lodging, meals, water, psychological assist and extra – to refugees fleeing the war-torn nation.
Along with cash, organizers wanted manpower.
“They stated that they had contacted over 500 individuals. I actually was one of many solely people who answered the decision. That was loopy to me as a result of I’m like, ‘How may extra individuals not need to do one thing like this?’” Devenanzio, who referred to as himself an “adrenaline junkie” and “journey seeker,” recalled.
“I may publish the inspirational quote or I may give $5, but it surely’s like, I’m younger, I’m able-bodied, I really feel like I’ve abilities and issues that I may contribute. … I need to be right here to take a few of the burdens off of the system and the individuals and simply do every part that I can.”
On the times Devenanzio was in Poland, he and his convoy-mates have been up and shifting earlier than dawn.
They traveled all day and night time by van to overcrowded shelters, chaotic practice stations, panicked hospitals and shellshocked army bases to ship medical provides, canned meals and child merchandise that they bought from the nation’s “Costco” equal.
“You consider assist as meals, medical provides, but it surely’s to date past that if you’re in a battle like this, the place all of the sources in a rustic have been destroyed or taken away,” he defined. “They want antifreeze, they want chainsaws, they want shovels, they want gasoline. They want something you’ll find at a ironmongery shop.”
The fact star then informed us a couple of man he met in Poland named Alexander, who fled to Ukraine from his native Belarus to flee political persecution.
“This is sort of a regular man. He’s not within the army, however he’s now picked up arms to combat for a rustic that he’s not even from,” he recalled.
“What he was saying is what Russia is doing proper now; whether or not you’re from Belarus, whether or not you’re from Ukraine, whether or not you’re from Poland or any of those surrounding nations, you’re all flying the identical flag since you’re all preventing the identical enemy.”
Devenanzio informed us there have been loads of sleepless nights whereas he was overseas, particularly the night time earlier than he was set to journey to Lviv.
“I’m like, ‘I’m going right into a warfare zone tomorrow, how wild is that this?’ After which clearly your thoughts goes to all of the worst locations,” he stated. “Like, what if I get shot by a sniper? What if like, you already know, you hear on the information, I imply, a Fox Information [cameraman] was simply killed like a few days ago … it’s like, what if we’re that statistic the place we’re driving down the highway and a few random rocket simply blows our van up?”
As for crossing the border into Ukraine on March 16? Devenanzio stated it was “nerve-racking.”
“It was harrowing at a number of factors. You undergo these checkpoints the place it’s simply, like, barricaded,” he recalled, including that folks have been “utilizing something” to “block off the streets” – together with home made sandbags and welded steel beams – to organize for “the advance of the Russian invasion.”
Regardless of his fears, the truth star felt consolation in seeing that he was not alone. His convoy was one amongst dozens from nations all around the world.
“I feel that out of every part, that was essentially the most reassuring to me since you hear about all of the refugees, you hear in regards to the disappointment,” he informed us. “However what you don’t hear about is the quantity of assist that’s coming to Ukraine.”
Halfway via our dialog, it dawned on Devenanzio that this was the primary time he was truly talking about his expertise.
“It’s like, you’re doing a lot, however you need to do extra, and also you simply don’t have the bodily capacity to do it,” he shared.
“I virtually really feel like I’m speaking with a therapist proper now … I haven’t spoken to anybody from again house apart from texts right here and there.”
Following our dialogue, Devenenzio confirmed to Web page Six that he returned to Los Angeles on March 20.
Once we requested what others can do to follow in his footsteps and help, he stated consciousness about Humanosh and financial donations are key.
“I don’t count on [people] to be like, ‘Hey, let’s hop on a airplane!’ However if you’re serving to individuals and also you’re doing stuff for different individuals, it’s like, it virtually magically makes every part that’s occurring in your life and your worries and your cares type of disappear,” he defined.
“It actually offers you religion and tenacity. Once you see all of the evil that’s happening proper now, it actually offers you hope that good goes to come back. If these individuals exist, then there’s no different approach.”