NBC News reporter Ellison Barber was briefly interrupted by a sweet Ukrainian child while filming a segment about life in refugee camps.
Barber — who is on location in Poland — was reporting about the current Russian invasion of Ukraine. Her Sunday Focus segment highlighted the 1.5 million refugees who have left loved ones behind after fleeing to neighboring countries like Poland, Hungary, and Romania for safety.
“We’ve spoken to some people here today who told us they left now because they were trying to really wait until the very last minute,” Barber said in a clip that also aired on MSNBC. “They did not want to go.”
She explained, “But then, as they talked to their family members, friends outside of Ukraine, they convinced them to take their children and come somewhere safe to Poland until they can go back.”
The camera then panned to refugees gathering necessities from tents. There were also boxes full of food and other supplies on the ground. Barber said that the Polish government has organized some of the support but many volunteers are responsible for refugees receiving help.
As she reported what the Polish government asked volunteers to send, a young girl stepped into the camera frame. “This is one of our friends we’ve been playing soccer with all morning,” Barber shared after patting the child on the head.
The child tossed the ball in the air a few times and smiled at the camera.
While Barber continued to walk with the girl around the camp, she added “Try to find organized groups, volunteer aides and send money that way because they are trying at this point to not just have an immediate of things, but kind of have a more organized, structured approach to where things go from here.”
Barber gestured toward the child and explained that many families, including women and children, are seeking assistance in the camps and “desperately hoping they can go home.”
When the girl was shown one final time, MSNBC’s Chris Jansing said, “Amid that desperation, it is joyful to see a child who is smiling and at least having a little fun.”
Jansing told Barber, “I’ll let you go back and play a little more soccer.”
Barber posted the video of the adorable interaction on Twitter and called it, “the best interruption of a live shot I’ve ever had.”
“And play more soccer, we did!” Barber caption a follow-up tweet of her playing with the child.
In an email to TODAY, Barber said it has been “tragic and heartwarming at the same time” to see groups of children playing together in the camps and at the border.
“I was walking near the border checkpoint today and saw a woman crying near a fence,” Barber shared. “A group of kids were playing together, and she had her back to them. I heard her sobbing between their giggles.”
She said, “I’m not meeting victims war — I’m meeting survivors.”
Along with Poland, other European countries such as Hungary, Moldova, Romania and Slovakia have been accepting Ukrainian refugees.
Ukrainians are fleeing increased violence in the region as Russian troops have been trying to overtake the capital city of Kyiv. Multiple airstrikes have been unleashed on Ukraine and some of those who have not left the country have been forced to retreat underground for shelter.
Ariana Brockington is a digital reporter for TODAY based in Los Angeles. She is a Northwestern University graduate who reports on entertainment news, pop culture and more.
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