Run 27 – June 2024

Hot on the heels of Andy’s run, Run 27 was another run out to Zaporizhzhia! Accompanying Mike this time were Guy, one of our founders from Weeze and Anna Pukas James who is a key fundraiser for us in the North East!

Once again, the Ladies of the Brigg Inner Wheel had been busy knitting for us!

Run 27 is on its way!

The first port off call was Weeze where the team enjoyed a convivial evening hosted by our good friend Elmar including Andy being able to drop in on his way home!

In addition to Mike’s updates, Anna was also capturing the trip – here’s her update video from the Poland/Ukraine Border:

Update from just outside Zaporizhzhia

Then it was time to unload the van:

After four days of travel, the Ukraine Fundraiser van finally arrived in Zaporizhzhia, south-east Ukraine. Here we are unloading medical supplies, bedding, clothing and lots of pet food and other supplies into the storage depot of HIMARS, the charity run by James Kaprini and his Ukrainian wife, Nataly. Zaporizhzhia is currently only about 40km from the front line and because of that proximity to potential danger, very few aid agencies and NGOs come this deep into Ukraine and if they do, they don’t hang around. Jimmy has been here since the start of the war and he’s not going anywhere. He is especially dedicated to helping soldiers serving on the front line and civilians trapped in those areas. They are in desperate need of medical equipment such as tourniquets and chest seals, clothing ( for when their uniforms get trashed), food and even water. You won’t read this in Jimmy’s own Facebook posts but every time he delivers aid to as close to the front as he can get, he is risking his life. And he goes there A LOT. Ukraine Fundraiser 2022 have been supporting Jimmy for several months and will continue making that long, arduous journey to bring whatever help and relief we can.

written by Anna Pukas James

As always, our traditional thank you video to all of you who donated aid for this run.

Everything except for animal related items had been unloaded – the team personally delivered to both of the rescue centres supported by Jimmy’s team:

As mentioned, we had Anna with us on this trip – as a former Journalist, she has much more talent than Mike or Andy in writing about what she has experienced – here’s her account of the visits to the animal rescue centres:

Animals are not forgotten in Zaporizhya. We delivered pet food, pet cages, carriers and beds to two rescue centers. The first is run by a remarkable woman who looks after 120 dogs and 32 cats. No funding, no help – just her and her sheer determination. The second animal centre houses 450 dogs, ( five volunteers so that’s nearly 100 dogs apiece to look after)now all suffering trauma after a nearby row of garage workshops was hit by a rocket last month, leaving a huge crater. Yes, dogs get PTSD too. These are not street dogs. They all belonged to people who had to flee damn fast and had no time to gather their pets up. Some of the dogs are war-injured and some managed to find their way to military posts or barracks and soldiers brought them to the shelters.

Written by Anna Pukas James

The gallery below includes a picture of some of the damage caused by the rocket attack at the rescue centre:

The team also joined Jimmy’s team for in the Orikhiv direction to visit a family that we have met before. It is always heart warming for us to know they are all still safe despite their location.

Here’s Anna’s account of that visit:

In a tiny hamlet ( no more than a street of houses, really) we delivered some much- needed items to a family whose situation really seems to sum up the dilemma for so many Ukrainians now trapped close to the front line in south- east Ukraine. The modest house ( and I mean modest – their water comes from a well) they live in, their garden and the few animals they keep represents all they have in the world. If they were to leave, they would lose all that they have worked for all their lives. And where would they go? How could they start again? What would they have to start again with, having left all they had? The mother is already in torn, ragged clothing. Yet by staying, they are at risk of losing it all, along with their lives, to Russian attack. They’ve already had one rocket fall, unexploded, on to their land. They are just one family living a hair’s breadth away from annihilation, but there are tens of thousands like them. Young girls who have no idea of what their future holds, or even if there IS a future. Yet still, they smile when foreigners come to visit. We had to leave in a hurry after receiving a warning of an attack. But at least we could leave. We had that choice. They don’t.

We have previously talked about the significance of the Orikhiv Region sign – the team met up with some of the military recipients of aid there and Mike took the opportunity to add a written tribute:

Here’s Anna’s account of the meeting at Orikhiv:

Facebook asks what’s on my mind. This: how much is a life worth? At the border between Zaporizhya and Orikhiv districts in south-east Ukraine, I met Gennadyi, a big, burly and very cheery chap who is chaplain to a front line battalion. With great pride, he told me he has 42 children – “three biological and 39 adopted.” The 39 are of course the men and women serving in his unit, for whom he is a paternal figure. As well as facing a near constant onslaught from Russian forces, they are battling shortages of basic battlefield medical aid, most particularly chest seals, special bandages and tourniquets. Why the shortage? Well one reason is that the Russians keep bombing hospitals. The pics in this post show what remains of a school that had been turned into a “first stop” hospital. On the day it was hit, one lot of wounded had just been stabilized and shipped out to a bigger hospital but 12 medics were in the building waiting for the next lot @@to arrive. They were all killed. Through his charity HIMARS, British aid worker and Zaporizhya resident James Kaprini strives to supply tourniquets, chest seals and other medical /surgical equipment to both military and civilians in the frontline zones. The best tourniquets and chest seals are actually manufactured in Dnipro, less than 100km away and cost a mere £6 each. That’s less than the price of two coffees from the likes of Costa or Cafe Nero or Starbucks. Definitely less than you’ll pay for two pints of beer in any British pub. Yet the struggle Jimmy and others like him face to raise enough funds to buy even the minimal number of these life-saving items is unrelenting. And then, if he has the funds, he has to find the fuel money to deliver them to those who need them. And then he has to weigh up the risk to his own life to make the delivery ( and then he goes anyway).

If everyone who reads this could forego those two coffees or those two pints, even just occasionally, and donate that £6, wouldn’t that be money far better spent?

The day after my chat with Gennadyi, we learned 200 Ukrainians had died not 20km from where we’d been standing. Every one of them someone’s son or brother or husband or father. I can’t say if having a tourniquet or chest seal to hand would have saved any of them but it is surely a strong possibility. So I ask again: what is the price of a life?

If you agree that a life is definitely worth £6,please PLEASE donate to Jimmy’s charity, HIMARS at:

James Kaprini

HALIFAX

Sort code 110510

Account number 13107665

IBAN : GB73HLFX11051013107665

Bic/Swift : HLFXGB21046

Thank you.

With huge thanks to Mike Kobarenko, we had a lot of gear for the fire services which Jimmy delivered to them:

As regular readers will know, we also take aid for refugees such as bedding and clothing. Here’s the van loading and Anna’s video report on that visit:

We are often asked how people can send aid directly by post – Anna asked the question!

People often ask how to get donations to Ukraine if they’ve only got a small amount or they don’t live near a collection point or don’t know anyone who goes out to Ukraine. Well, here’s one way: Nova Poshta is a courier service operating all over Ukraine. It’s efficient, fast and relatively cheap ( certainly by UK standards). All you do is find a courier service in the UK ( dpd, Yodel, etc) that links up with Nova Poshta… but I’ll let Jimmy Kaprini from HIMARS explain how it works. All he asks is that you pay for ALL the postage ( not just the cost of getting it to the Ukraine border) and if at all possible, add a couple of quid to cover the cost of his fuel to collect it from the distribution point.

Cleary, not everything we take can be delivered to the end recipient whilst we are there but we get great feedback as and when items are distributed – here’s a few pictures of aid that was given to those in need after we returned to the UK:

And so it was time to leave and Run 27 came to an end.
Our huge thanks to Anna for her additional pictures, videos and commentary! Run 28 coming up next in July!

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