Run 22 – October/November 2023

Mike is joined on Run 22 by a legend in the Ukraine humanitarian aid world, Mr. Andy Cropper. Andy has been a staunch supporter of the Brovary based charity and has also created comfort boxes for the soldiers -some of these are on board for this run together with more medical aid from both Andy & Kristina Pukas Cousins, knitted blankets and toys from the local Winterton residents plus much much more. 41 sets of crutches from Mike & Annie were added to by even more from Andy C! Here’s some pictures of the aid that the team are packing on board for run 22:

After a good sleep on the ferry from Harwich to Hook of Holland, the refreshed team were ready to roll! A rare picture of a fully awake Mike on the ferry!

On arrival in Germany, a quick call in to Guy & Liza in Weeze to pick up the last of the aid kindly procured by our good friend Frank Thon, which Andy W couldn’t fit on the last run. Oh, and also the hospital bed table legs he forgot to take off the van last time too! Here is the last of the aid guarded by another Frank!

A few delays on the way – it’s to be expected when you consider the distances we travel!

Mike and Andy C arrived at the border for the first crossing!

They will be doing this again later as Mike deals with the long overdue issue of legalising the Blue van we took over last December! This required the van to come to the border and be driven out of Ukraine by Mike, out of Poland and then come back in and deal with the paperwork for a permanent import! This last aspect was quick, the queue to get back in was less so!

The queue for coming back in with the Blue van:

Once the traumas of the border crossing were over, the team were treated to a few hours sleep by the charity who now have the Blue Van: (a lot posher than most we have stayed in!)

Then they made good progress towards Kyiv via a drop off in Lviv on the way!

Upon arrival at Brovary it was all hands on deck to quickly unload and reload a large proportion onto their van which has now set off for frontline areas for immediate distribution. Mike’s van is being worked on today after which he will be delivering to a local Hospital. A massive thank you to all that have donated to make this possible.

At this point in the run, Andy C went with the local team to deliver some aid and also assist in some painting and decorating!

Meanwhile, Mike had to wait for the completion of urgent repairs to his van – huge thanks to Andre in Brovary for getting it back up and running! Once that was completed, he was able to load up with the final aid and take it to where Marina’s team are currently operating. For security reasons, we are unable to disclose the exact location.

Mike on his way to Donetsk Region
Mike’s arrival in Donetsk Region
Unloading and back together with Andy Cropper!

Here’s Mike arriving in the Donetsk Oblast:

We often complain about the potholes in Ukraine – join Mike for part of the ride!:

Whilst Mike was off the road, Andy C was down in the Donetsk Region – in addition to his painting & decorating skills, he was able to see at first hand where the aid he provides goes.

Once they were reunited, it was an opportunity to see the shower facility that both Andy C and Ukraine Fundraiser have been supporting – this awesome facility was built from scratch, including drilling a well, by Marina’s team from Brovary!

Some more pictures from the delivery:

Here’s Andy’s account of the delivery:

The good, the bad and the ugly. Setting the scene – this far east the night comes very early. So as we moved a couple of hours into the afternoon it was time for Mykee Hockham and I to make our way to a medical store unit for one of the brigades. To drop off a vanload of hospital/surgical aid and some sundry items as well. Including most of the 98 crutches collected for me before I left. Safely delivered, we are told that they have plenty of this kind of medical stuff here now. What they desperately need, though, are tourniquets and Israeli bandages. Considering our location in the Ukraine, this was to be expected. So this becomes the next project and working out how to fund it, the next challenge. By now the dusk has come and we set off back. Very little visibility. No street lighting (obviously), moving into semi isolated roads between settlements, dark, and some turns difficult to spot. A wrong judgement puts us in a road ‘loop’ that could only be very loosely described as a roadway. Deep ruts, cavernous holes and plenty of water hiding perils on the ground. The result – a massive lump of metal pierced the tyre and a terminal puncture. Resulting in the marvellous Mykee changing the tyre in almost pitch black – lit only by our head torches. I, of course, made an excellent imitation of a street lamp!! Now my last food had been about 8.30 that morning. Mykee had been travelling overnight and had eaten nothing since 2 a.m. but a packet of hula hoops and the remains of a couple of scones made for us before we left a week earlier. Thanks for those, Joy Helen, they proved a vital addition when the time came. Still excellent even after all that time, I am told. So we needed food now … and on to the ugly!
We found a small ‘burger’ bar. Not at all certain what meat they were, but cooked up as a whole from frozen, cold in the middle and with their own ‘distinctive’ taste. Perhaps the ridiculously low price should have put us on our guard? I managed a 1/4 of mine. Mykee has either got a stronger stomach or was starving by then. He managed all of his. Not an experience I would like to repeat and thank goodness for our friends at the base, later, who plied us with some excellent food and one of the best black pudding dishes I have ever had. By the end of the day another job done. As you can see, nothing is ever simple in the aid business.

Then it was back to Brovary to pick up the trailer and plan the trip back home – not so easy right now as there are blockades for 2 months on the Polish side of the border. Whilst they waited, Andy was getting reacquainted with some of the Brovary residents!

We have been blessed to have met such a wonderful family in Brovary – the development of relationships that cement the concept of extended family are so important. From Mike: “I now consider that my closest Ukrainian friends are more than that we now are родиня. Family certainly no less cemented by the bond of love.”
Slava is like a brother to us all.

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