Thank you so much for your generosity in donating towards the trip to Ukraine. The items taken were a mixture of goods given directly to Hippychick, given to the Compass Centre in Taunton and other local Somerset organisations. It was a hell of a long drive but with two drivers for the lorry (kindly donated by Haybirry Haulage and C & D South West) and the two of them for the van they were able to keep going without any significant stops. They left on Saturday 12th March, and were back Tuesday 15th March, having completed a 2600m round trip over 72 hours there and back to Rzeszow via Krakow.
It was a huge relief to have made the best possible connections through an old ex Marine friend – a Trustee for a UK Charity called RE:ACT About – RE:ACT (re-act.org.uk) – an emergency crisis response charity specialising in getting direct humanitarian aid in the fastest time for those who are hard to reach and, most vulnerable. Alongside and in conjunction with RE:ACT we also met up with members of a Ukrainian Charity called ‘Ukraine Education’ in the town of Rzeszow which is about 45 mins from the Ukrainian border and 2 hours from Lviv. ‘Ukraine Education’ focuses on educational matters but has rapidly adapted to the war situation and now provides humanitarian aid for displaced persons.
In Rzeszow they were met by a 27 yr old woman and an older man from ‘Ukraine Education’ on the edge of the town. All Ukrainian men 18-65 have to fight so all this work has to be done by either women or men over 65. They had driven from Lviv (a 2 hour drive from the border) where there are a huge amount of people flooding in from eastern and central Ukraine. They have shelters and reception centres for people. Everything was unloaded from both the van and lorry into a large building company warehouse which had been donated to the organisation and they took some of the more urgent medical equipment, generators and sleeping bags back to Lviv late last on Sunday night, with lots more poised to be taken forward into Lviv. They estimate that around 60,000 additional refugees per day will be arriving in Lviv over the coming days.
It becomes very real when you realise that everything has had to be put together in Poland with no notice and, inevitably, there are not huge, perfectly kitted out warehouses in the exact location. The potential for chaos in these situations is high. I can tell you with confidence that everything will get right to where it is most needed within a short space of time rather than stockpiling in Poland which is already happening and bound to become a bigger problem.
A significant aspect of this trip is that we have helped establish a tested and effective conduit for delivery of humanitarian aid between a UK Disaster Relief charity – RE:ACT – and an established charity in Ukraine – Ukraine Education. This logistical structure will enable any further aid donations to flow swiftly to those who need it most.
The palpable gratitude from all Ukrainians we met for the support and humanitarian aid was clearly evident and very humbling. That the populations of European countries are standing beside Ukraine with humanitarian, economic and military defensive support clearly meant the world to the Ukrainian people we met.
They met a Dutch couple at a service station in Poland who had just collected their daughter in law and grandchildren from the border. It was heart rending to talk to the daughter about having to leave her home in Kharkiv and her father having to stay behind and fight when he had had no connection with anything military until two weeks ago.
Thank you again to everyone who made contributions – on the back of this trip we are going to continue to support the delivery of humanitarian aid via RE:ACT and Ukraine Education.