Geraldton to Ukraine: the extraordinary war-torn journey of Shane Paxa

Lachlan AllenMidwest Times
Shane Paxa, left, has been spreading hope through his aid.
Camera IconShane Paxa, left, has been spreading hope through his aid. Credit: Lachlan Allen

Shane Paxa once called Geraldton home, but he now finds himself on the other side of the world, in Ukraine where he is helping locals trapped in the war-torn country.

Born in Port Hedland, Mr Paxa grew up in Geraldton, living in the Mid West city between the ages of three and 17.

Mr Paxa said it was his new-found religion which called him to Ukraine.

“When I became a Christian at 25 I moved over to Ukraine for a year and then after I got married, my wife and I moved permanently over to Ukraine to serve,” he said.

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Before the war, Paxa and his wife served as youth workers, living in the city of Rzhyshchiv, 80km south of capital city Kyiv.

“We ran different programs and camps, showing the youths that there is a different way to live than a life of drugs and alcohol,” he said.

While many people packed their bags and left at the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Mr Paxa decided to stay and help people, going against the advice of the Australian Embassy.

“Right now we are providing aid as much as possible. In two forms, providing food and supplies, hygiene and different products to the people of our town,” he said.

“So we have been helping people evacuate from Kyiv but also moving people from our village Rzhyshchiv to towns and cities further west and so we’ll continue to do that. As much as needed.”

Amid the destruction and devastation of war, Mr Paxa said it was God that kept him and his family going.

“That’s the only thing that kind of keeps us going, you know, surviving on four or five hours sleep a night. All the things that come with war — the planes, the rockets and the drones. The only store of hope that we had is found in God and that keeps us going,” he said.

Seeing your son in a war zone, hundreds of thousands of kilometres away would cause for extreme panic for any parent.

Back home in Coronation Beach, just north of Geraldton, Mr Paxa’s mum and dad aren’t dwelling on the situation.

“My parents are believers so they understand that worry, like the Bible says, can’t add any length to your days on earth. So there’s no point in worrying,” he said.

“The safest place to be is in God’s will, sometimes that means being in the middle of a war and that’s OK.”

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