Aid Runs Direct to Ukraine
Blog from the May 2022 journey...
Setting off at early o’clock on Friday to meet the Ferry in Kent. 3 vehicles, 6 drivers, with every item we carried provided by the kindness of our network of friends and contacts, a very humbling experience to load the items, knowing that they were given with love and no expectation of personal gratification – just pure good will.
In the queue for the ferry to Calais we met a man whose car was laden with aid, much the same as ours….more on him later. Our passage through France, Holland and Belgium passed with very little incident apart from the odd delay due to road works; all to be expected. Our first planned stop was in Dortmund for a late dinner and two hours later Kassel for a 6 hour sleep stop.
Up and at ‘em for a sunrise start on the second day and a fairly easy cruise to the brunch stop...Just before we reached the Polish border the Santa Fe, our oldest vehicle gave up and spat bits of valve out of the exhaust – we had a contingency plan for this – we quickly towed the car off the road and reloaded the supplies and people to the other two vehicles, left it parked safely and drove on. We informed our Ukranian contacts of it's location and hoped a plan could be made to still make use of it.
Driving on, further into Poland, a long very straight road. We were delayed due to an accident just four cars in front of us, multiple fire engines and ambulances in attendance and unfortunately some fatalities, we felt very lucky to be a few cars back, it could so easily have been us, a focussing and sobering moment. The whole journey to Ukraine is risky; we must never lose sight of that.
Again we drove on…. In light of the military situation in Ukraine and the current 24 hour wait to cross the border we decided it was safer for all concerned that we stop short and our contacts come out to meet us. This involved finding accommodation in Jaroslaw and another short night’s sleep! At this point the man we met on the ferry (remember him?) got in touch and asked for our contacts details so he could drop off the med kits and medicines he had in his car, increasing the amount of aid we were able to supply to where it is needed and ensuring the safety of another aid delivery, smiles all round!
After a relaxed night our main contact arrived bright and early, he was amazed at the kindness of the people of our community to provide all of this aid, not usually a man to show his emotion, in this case he did and it meant the world.
Our next challenge was the 3 hour train ride to Krakow, where we all met students, refugees, wise elderly citizens, all with tales of fear and dread for the future and a common resilience to make good the devastation and damage the war has caused, some really inspiring and heart breaking moments. A night in the beautiful, bonkers city of Krakow followed and yet another early start for the flight home.
Remember the Santa Fe we had to abandon in Germany? It has since been recovered, repaired and prepared for use keeping the humanitarian corridor open and safer between Lviv and Kyiv.
Happily all 3 vehicles, all of the aid and the extra kit from our new friend made it there safely and all 6 of us made it home unscathed!
So, we get home, sleep, decompress, reflect and look at the group WhatsApp and every member has posted asking when we begin to prepare for next aid run, and how can we do more. Legends all of them!
So, what do we do now?
We thank everyone who donated, collected, purchased, sold, cajoled and shared, without the community we would not have been able to any of this – thanks also for your trust in us, we will always ensure safe passage and delivery of every aspect of our mission, no unnecessary risks!
Support the families who are coming to our communities – one thing I have learned about the Ukrainian people is the welcome your receive as a friend in their house, we need to extend the hand of friendship the same way
We begin planning and collecting for the next trip – our contact will produce a list and we will go again……
APRIL 2022 UPDATE - Thank you so much to everyone who contributed to our second Community Aid Ukraine trip, including:
Those who held barn dances, came to our talks, rattled buckets, harangued friends and colleagues, shared links, purchased items from the wish list, gave us a car, a trailer, a generator, their time and most of all support. Every item and penny will end up in the hands of those who need it. Thank you
The website is still open for cash donations but for this trip, we are pretty much at capacity so the wish lists are closed for now.
So we’re are going again, in the next few days – we will be publishing pictures and stories on our return but rest assured risk assessments have been done and plans made for a safe as possible passage. 3 vehicles, 6 people, 1250 miles, 26 hours of driving – just need to work out how to get back!
Note: we are just short of our cash target (to pay for fuel, fees etc) so donations via the Donate button, PayPal or directly (contact Chris for details) would be very welcome
The recent change in focus on missile attacks on the eastern regions has made us even more determined to deliver our aid to Lviv and surrounding areas.
People have been so kind notably Oasis Habitats and Rachel Goodfellow of The Hidden Needs Trust and Sherborne Castle Rotary Club both have gone above and beyond to help us collect most of the items on our list, as well as all of the fabulous individuals who have purchased items and given their hard earned pounds - we are humbled by their kindness
We just need a final push to get as close to our target as possible, you can contribute via the Donate button on this website or we can supply personal bank details if you prefer, every penny goes to those who need it most.
Early April 2022
Last week four of us went to Ukraine and took aid to some friends in Lviv who have decided to stay and try to protect their community. They asked us for 4x4 vehicles, specifically Nissan X-Trails as they are prolific and they have spare parts available.
On our trip we learned of aid that is being sent out with the best intentions but is practically useless, stories of out of date drugs, unusable items etc. The people we spoke to said they didn't want to appear ungrateful but there really isn't time/resource to sort through it, so much of it is lying beside the road wasted.
We met with local voluntary workers to discuss a list of what equipment and aid they would find most useful.
They are still desperate for more vehicles suitable for rough terrain to access more remote areas. Women have a specific request of essential hygiene products and clothing, this includes comfortable underwear, thermals, sports bras, lipsalve, sanitary products. Little things that we take for granted. There is also a shortage of sturdy boots and they would really like helmet mounted night sights, but at £6000 each it is unlikely we will be able to help with this.
We saw abandoned aid last week and are keen not to make that worse, we have contacts who update the list of requested specific items, we propose to go back in early May with as many 4x4 vehicles as we can supply. We want to provide 200 female aid packs and have been assured that they will all be distributed and used.
We got a coach from Lviv in Ukraine to Krakow in Poland last week, we waited for four hours and watched family after family say goodbye to their family members staying to protect their land, they hugged, kissed and cried. Climbed on board coaches and went their separate ways. It was truly humbling to watch. We are home in the UK and safe now with our electricity, wifi, water, food and families. Some of those families we watched will never be back together again.
What can you do to help?
Please donate as much as you can so that we can afford to buy more vehicles, get them checked over, filled with aid and drive them 1500 miles. Check out the wishlist on Amazon - it's like a wedding gift list, this way we won’t take too much or too little of certain items.
It costs around £600 per vehicle in fuel to get it there, we took two X-trails in the last run at £2k each. Some local organisations have been busily collecting items for the next trip, we still need the following: torches, batteries (AA & AAA), USB power packs, generators, boots.
We really need your help, everyone is feeling the pinch financially since the war started. The people of Ukraine need our help. Our families in the UK are helping to sort everything out, nobody is charging anything for their time or for storage. Every penny donated will be used to support Ukranian people living in these extreme circumstances.
Donate - paypalme/CommunityAidUkraine
Amazon Wishlists - Welfare Kit List - Equipment List
Many thanks to Ceilidh’s Comet for donating the proceeds of their fundraising event ‘Bandura’ to the next delivery run.