Tauranga baker’s mission to help feed hungry in Ukraine


Tauranga baker Harriet Campbell is on a mission to help in Ukraine. She wants to feed the hungry in the Ukrainian war zone.

Not somewhere in the left-right-out corner either. On the front line. Just as she was in this picture (front) when she was packing medical supplies.

This isn’t a sudden whim. She and her American-based partner Jason Zan have been providing hands-on support in Ukraine since the 2022 invasion.

In August, the couple intend returning to feed hungry soldiers and civilians via a semi-mobile food kitchen.

They’re targeting areas with the most need, possibly Kharkiv or Zaporizhzhia in southeastern Ukraine, Campbell says.

Horrific situation

She describes the situation in Ukraine as “horrific” and said during her latest visit Kharkiv was hit about four times in a week.

Animals as well as people are traumatised, homeless and in need of support. Some die.

“I was working in the northern end of the city and could feel and hear the missile strikes and at least one of those strikes killed a whole family.

“This time it felt very different, and I saw how people who have worked tirelessly and bravely for two years trying to hold the line are feeling the strain and looking tired.

“The mental toll it’s taking on both soldiers and civilians is massive. This only motivates us to want to return to help in any way we can.”

Why do it?

Campbell says she finds it hard to explain why she and Zan are willing to put their safety at risk for the Ukrainian people. They’re not Ukrainian and have no Ukrainian relatives.

“It’s hard to put in a few words, but I think it was seeing how the people of Ukraine are so determined to keep fighting … Their unbreakable spirit and generosity are awe-inspiring, and they drew me in.

“I’ve made some deep and meaningful relationships during my visits to Ukraine and that only motivates me even more to want to return.“

Ukraine need still high

Tenby Powell, former Tauranga mayor and chairman of volunteer humanitarian aid organisation Kiwi K.A.R.E (Kiwi Aid and Refugee Evacuation), first met Campbell in Kharkiv in November 2022.

“I hadn’t been made aware Harriet was in Kharkiv and was thrilled to meet her.

“She was running a kitchen and cooking for internally displaced persons. Harriet was also working in a bakery supplying military hospitals and schools with fresh bread and hot meals.”

At that time Ukraine had some 14 million displaced people, he says.

“In late 2022, Kharkiv was still hit regularly and intensively by missile and drone attacks and I admired Harriett for being there and getting stuck in with a practical Kiwi can-do attitude.

“Despite media attention having been diverted almost exclusively to Gaza, the full-scale war in Ukraine is still raging and Harriet and her partner will be welcomed back with open arms.”


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