Run 24 – February 2024

Run 24 once again visited Zaporizhzhia in South East Ukraine. Because of the new customs rules, we have to be much more detailed in our paperwork and Mike, Annie & Andy spent a weekend compiling an inventory of our current aid located in Winterton to add to what we have in Brighton. Annie was amazed to discover a carpet and table in her lounge as we gradually documented and packaged up the aid they have there! Huge thanks to all of the local Winterton supporters who continue to bring aid to us!

Whilst there, we caught up with Michael Kobarenko who has donated an incredible amount of professional boots for firefighters which are much needed!

As we only had enough funding to take one van – this time, it was Mike’s van and trailer with Andy as co-driver. We had a great run down to Dover:

Our first stop was to visit our team members Guy & Liza plus our dear friend Elmer in Weeze, Germany. After an overnight sleep there, it was onwards to the border! Once again, due to having excellent paperwork, our border crossing time was just around one hour!

Our first stop was in Lviv to visit our good friend Roman and leave a package from Andy Cropper with him for collection – this contained vital diabetes related items for a patient who was running out!

From there, it was onwards to our first stop in Brovary. I think we may have mentioned pot holes in the past? Unfortunately, our trailer tyre found one on the way! Fortunately, Mike had a spare!

Then it was onwards to Brovary

We didn’t get to meet Dave sadly! The next videos are from our search of Kyiv for a replacement tyre!

Some views of Kyiv whilst looking for tyres
Close up of Kyiv’s most famous landmark!
Came across this aircraft museum – short video as it was next to a military establishment so had to stop filming
Have we previously mentioned pot holes?

Sadly, there were no tyres to be found so we made the decision to avoid potholes on the way down to Zaporizhzhia and put the trailer in the back of the van once unloaded. The topic of tyres would come up again later!

Whilst we were in Brovary, we were able to help our dear friend Slava celebrate his birthday it was a lovely evening and with the snow that fell overnight, very picturesque:

Thanks to Maryna and Lena, we were able to top up with some more winter clothes to take with us.

We took some video along the way:

A brief stop in Dnipro to deliver a package and we were back on the road to meet Jimmy from the Himars.ZP charity at checkpoint 1 outside Zaporizhzhia.

The next videos are from the unloading of the van:

Mike was presented with a wrist band made by local children
Sirens are just an everyday part of life in Zaporizhzhia

Whilst unloading, we met folks from 128 Brigade and were presented with volunteer patches by their senior officer.

With the van now unloaded, time for some thanks before a well earned burger and beer! Huge thanks to Jimmy for arranging beds for us for the duration of our stay.

It is very important to us that we see where possible, evidence of the onward delivery of our aid and huge thanks to Jimmy who always provides excellent feedback for us! On this occasion, we were also able to take the aid ourselves to the dog rescue centre and to join Jimmy and the team delivering into the front line area. The next set of videos/photos are all about delivery to the end recipients.

Delivery to the Dog rescue centre

Due to the need to make an appointment, we were unable to personally deliver Mike Kobarenko’s donations to the fire service but Jimmy did so whilst we were on our way home!

Medical items we brought with us were included in this delivery to a hospital:

Together with Jimmy and his team plus a military escort, we spent a day n the front line area. This is somewhere you don’t get to go normally but it was worth it. We visited a family with 6 children who live there – at various times, they have had to live with rockets and shells going across them from both sides yet they are hanging on there as they have nowhere else to go. We took clothing, kids bikes and as a treat, chocolate oranges with a knitted snowball cover! You could hear the bangs in the background from the constant artillery bombardment.
Meeting families like this is exactly why we do what we do.

We also visited a location that when it was bombed, was being used as a hospital. Prior to that, it was a school – you can see old text books amongst the rubble. Either way, this was NOT a legitimate target!

The front line city of Orikhiv has been bombed extensively and with our military escort, we were able to visit and see for ourselves the destruction of civilian areas. Our original aim was to get footage to use in helping to boost awareness of what is happening in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
Unfortunately, Mike noticed the car tyre was deflating and so we had to leave quickly to get to a repair shop. (Yes, there was one just a few km away, still working even in the front line!).

Whilst at the repair shop, we heard 2 blasts louder than the others we had become used to hearing. It transpired that there was an attack on Orikhiv in the same area we had just left. Thanks to the deflated tyre, we weren’t there anymore.
The damage to the tyre was caused by some shrapnel from a previous attack on the city – Andy now has that in his wallet as a good luck charm! Here’s some of the footage we were able to get during our visit – thanks to Alina from Jimmy’s team for this video:

This opens with our visit to the Orikhiv area sign which has become a place where all new soldiers heading to that area stop to get their picture taken. Sadly for many, this is a one way trip.

Back into the city, we relaxed with a beer in an old soviet era nuclear bunker! This the same building as Jimmy’s HQ, just a few floors lower down! It even had its own jail!

Another interesting visit was to part of the Himars.zp team who are making parts for drone delivered bombs, at home with 3D printers! This is a great initiative, lots of different people each with 4-5 3D printers working 24/7.

We also took some time out to visit the local quarry which supplied stone for the building of the Aswan dam and also the Dnipro river – Alina from the team is also part of an eco charity that is focussed on cleaning up the city and surrounding areas. The river is just one of many places they have cleared tons of rubbish from. On an earlier trip, we brought jackets donated by Brighton & Hove City Brass – some of these have been given to the eco team.

Before we left, we were kindly presented with inscribed shell cases – these were to cause an issue at the Polish border later on and for the time being, these are safe with our friend Roman in Lviv.

Then it was time to start the long journey home – around 15-16 hrs back to the border at Medyka awaited us!

The border crossing took a bit longer this time – around 2.5 hours. (Which is still good). The cause of this was the presentation shells we were given. Despite the help given on the Ukrainian side, the Polish shift leader wasn’t going to allow them in to Poland. (This can be hit and miss!). With the threat of arrest if we did try, we were able to get our friend Roman to come and collect them rather than have to throw them away.

With a stop at Weeze on the way, we arrived in Calais with plenty of time before our ferry. Another successful run has been completed – already we are planning the next one though!

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