the forgotten millions: a mother's harrowing journey - white plastic sheeting
On the side of the road, about 3 km from Serbia
Two little boys caught my eye on the Hungarian border.
A man sits awkwardly under a tree with a piece of yellow plastic cloth on it.
His twin brothers stood by him hard, and then his legs buckled down and he fell to the ground.
Their mother helped stabilize the little boy, supported the smaller of the two, and helped the taller boy kneel down.
They are waiting for a bus that will take them close to the Hungarian border and somehow this family with so many challenges will travel 5 km kilometres to the border today.
The mother smiled and waved at me again and I walked towards her.
Her name was Khawla and when I was sitting next to her she wrapped a white towel on my shoulder. "No," I say. "It's okay. I am fine.
She pointed to my notebook.
I struggled to write in the rain and Khawla was trying to shelter me with a towel.
"It's okay, really," I said again.
There was a smile on her face.
She raised her hand as if she were saying "stop ".
I got the message.
Towels will stay where they are.
The boys sat in front of me grinning and were fascinated by my new white cloak. "Six years old.
Ali is the youngest twin.
He can't walk or talk, but when I scratch him, it's easy for him to smile and giggle.
Muhammad is the higher of the two.
He can still walk, but he can only walk with the help of his father.
As he was walking, his hips were locked, and as he shuffled next to his father, he dragged his toes in the dirt.
"There was a seizure and Mohammed's head was in her hands," Khawla said . ".
She told me that she is from the Syrian city of Dara and that she has been moving with her family for 18 days.
At that time, she must have gone nearly 2000 km. I looked at the two smiling faces in front of me and wanted to know how she did it.
A boat trip to Greece is the most dangerous part of her journey, she said.
The ship's motor died four times at sea, leaving them stranded in the hot Mediterranean sun in no direction.
Then, when the boat started to go into the water, they were told to throw their luggage aside.
"I thought my family would die.
"I thought we 'd drown," she said . "
They went to Kos, but only clothes were on their backs, and then, in the heat of the day, they sat on the dock for four days while the police handled their paperwork.
On her trip to Europe, she overcame many difficulties.
She was brave, I told her, but she shook her head. "No.
My child needs medical help.
I did it for them.
"I want them to live a life of respect for others," she said . ".
When a van stopped by us, I was still sitting on the yellow plastic sheet next to her.
The door opened quickly and suddenly a lot of people shouted.
Khawla's husband grabbed their stroller and put it behind the van.
He came back to find one of the boys, and Khawla picked up another.
She is catching up with the van.
The taxi will take them to the border.
"Goodbye," she cried.
The driver of the van is Serbian.
He will bring the family to the border as much as possible, but Khawla and her family still need to negotiate a 5 km-kilometer walk along the railway to get into Hungary.
I don't know what they will do.
"Goodbye, good luck in the future," I said . ".
Then they left.
Later that day, we took the legal route to Hungary and drove across the border.
It rained heavily and it hasn't dispersed yet.
I would like to know how Khawla and her twins respond.
It's been a few hours since I saw her on the side of Serbia.
I have come to the edge of this land and thousands of refugees will enter Hungary today.
Rows of police were waiting while walking to the waiting bus in the last few hundred metres.
I 've been separated from our photographer, Joe Curry, but I heard her call. "Rachel! Rachel!
Joe is laughing.
Khawla is behind me.
She had crossed the border and stood on the muddy road, where Ali sat in his baby chair.
18 at home-
The day's journey is over and Khawla looks exhausted.
There was a row of Hungarian police in front of her.
They decided who would take the waiting bus to the official transit camp.
As people try to board the plane, I watch the children fall into a crush and I know that Khawla and her vulnerable children won't have a chance.
I approached a policeman and asked if anyone could speak English.
Finally, a masked man walked up to the line and asked me what I wanted.
I told him that there was a family with two boys with disabilities who needed help.
He assured me that they would assist Khawla in getting on the bus.
I moved behind the police force and when Khawla pushed Ali to the front of the queue I waved to her.
She waved to me with joy.
"Thank you, thank you! " she says.
Then she put her hand on her chest and gave me a kiss and said, "God bless.
"It caught me off guard.
The guard and I suddenly felt overwhelmed.
I looked at the scary shoulder of the police in front and saw Khawla and her two disabled children standing in the mud and in the rain.
Her face was full of hope.
She went to Europe.
I know she believes a new life is coming.
I waved for the last time and quickly turned and walked away.
I put my hand in my pocket to make sure it's there. Yes, it is.
My New Zealand passport
You can donate online, by phone and offline.
0800 5000 telephone contributions can be made.
Offline donations can be filled out by printing the form below (
App users click here).
Or look at the print edition of The Herald.