Jaap Scholten: Three Bags of Women’s Clothing and a Sniper
TO THE UKRAINIAN BORDER AND BEYOND
A turbulent road trip through Ukraine and an ode to the stalwart Ukrainians
When on 24 February 2022 Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine, Jaap Scholten went to the border to help a young family from Kyiv. In the weeks and months that follow, he became more and more involved in the conflict.
Scholten collected money for drones, traveled with an American sniper in a Kyiv cake factory. From the American sniper Scholten heard about life at the front and about the mission to save a six-day-old baby from an underground hospital in Mariupol.
Three Bags of Ladies Clothes and a Sniper is a personal logbook and a unique report of the astonishing courage, resilience and solidarity that the war has unleashed in the Ukrainians.
“I joined the Marines at eighteen because I wanted to fight evil. I’ve been able to do that here. I’m grateful to the Ukrainians, deeply grateful. They’re tremendous. I’m so glad I came here and was able to help. I’m leaving a whole lot of ballast behind in Ukraine.”
“We load supplies for Chernihiv. The city was surrounded by the Russians for almost a month, and the only way to supply it with food and ammunition was by using smuggling routes. Two thousand Ukrainians held off 30,000 Russians with the help of the 1st Ukrainian Tank Brigade.“
“I back the Toyota up to the cake factory’s loading platform. Neal jumps into the open bed of the pickup, stands with his legs apart and takes the jerrycans of diesel from me, then the plastic storage cases and boxes with angle grinders, chainsaws and pumps. Then, with the help of the factory’s security guard, we load the back of the pickup further with cans of food, boxes of Kyiv cakes and sacks of flour, 150 kilo in total, for the bakers of Chernihiv. Everywhere there are teams of women baking bread. Neal says that in the trenches the women from the surrounding villages bring food three times a day. The best cooks are in charge, so that the lads get the best food.“
“Borsht, vareniki, pierogi – we get a lot of those dishes from the villagers. Life is hard in the trenches. You sleep in damp underground shelters and it’s cold and muddy, but we ate like kings. The older women in the villages adopt the soldiers and treat them like their own sons.”
After 24 February Jaap Scholten does what few other writers did: spring into action physically for Ukraine. In this book he gives a thrilling account. Excellent work!VPRO Gids
From this war diary you learn a lot about the war, about Ukraine and about the unfathomable side-effects of “being in a war”. As a reader you’re in a roller coaster of experiences that lurch back and forth. An intriguing and above all useful supplement to the news, giving it a human scale.Trouw
A writer like Jaap Scholten, who from his second fatherland, Hungary, rolled up his sleeves and got into his car to help refugees over the border and then undertook hazardous journeys into the ravaged neighbouring country with relief supplies and equipment for the military struggle, deserves more respect.Nederlands Dagblad