Anthony White has written the following about his trip carrying aid to Ukraine. The letter complete with pictures is here
Ukraine April 23.
Thanks to your generosity a massive £50,000 was raised for the April 1st trip to Lviv. This was a stunning amount of money and enabled us to far exceed our initial targets of delivery. Simply put, 7 drivers took 3 Mitsubishi L200 trucks and a retired NHS ambulance 1350 miles to Lviv, all of which were filled to the gunwales with humanitarian aid. The list included 350 lifesaving tourniquets, 137 emergency stretchers, 550 specialist blood clotting packs, 300 bullet wound chest seals in all more than 2000 major trauma wound dressings and thousands more hospital-grade items. In all, we took some 4000 units. We also took 100 mobility aids for the wounded along with a plethora of other products. Importantly all of the products had been specifically requested from front-line battalions. Trips like this don’t happen without considerable planning. Steve Challen of the Tove Benefice was chief buyer and general factotum organising a multitude of tasks of great importance. Oleh Nadya translated all forms where needed from Ukraine to English. Paul Parsons collated all information, planned the route, insured the vehicles, ticked the legal boxes, and was all around great team leader.
On our first morning in Lviv, we met the extraordinary Anastasia (67th Brigade) a Bakhmut medic whose job it is to take the badly wounded from the front line and stabilise them before their trip back in the hospital train. For those with a strong stomach please check the video here. In it, you get a feel for the very tough environment, terrible wet and basic working conditions. You can also see the first aid packs that the ladies in Lviv make in their spare time. (We saw first-hand the comradeship this created with the 3 ladies we met who all had husbands fighting on the front line). Anastasia is a mother of 2 young daughters, who she hadn’t seen since December. She received a truck (resprayed green and en route in a few hours) which was full of trauma supplies as requested (her last truck had been destroyed). Her message was that most of the good equipment comes as humanitarian gifts from abroad and saves lives. She wears a helmet and body armour both made in the West.
We then met 3 veterans who had fought in Mariupol, Kreminna, and Bakhmut. They were very keen to explain the Ukraine Government does its best to supply the everyday needs of munitions, but it doesn’t have the resources to supply everything. They did complain about the form filling for supplies and then recording how much ammunition was used at each engagement. The Mitsubishi trucks were vital to their transport needs for which they were very thankful. When we told them they were over 10 years old they smiled and said, ‘new trucks, how wonderful’!
We met with 3 nurses from the hospital train which runs between the battlefront and the main hospitals. They were equally enthused about the importance of the extra western products and spent some time inspecting wheelchairs and walking sticks.
We handed over the ambulance to the Police brigade who were driving it straight to the front with its extra supplies. Before it left, the senior Priest from the church gave it a full blessing and doused it and us with holy water.
In Lviv, the sirens went off twice. No one took any notice. It’s a remarkable place with delightful architecture left over from being an outpost of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Rebuilding, street upgrades, repainting and tree planting all continued even though there was a war. On the streets, there are very few men. The ladies we met had started micro-enterprises making equipment for the troops or driving supplies to the front. Keeping busy seems a good way to stop them from thinking about the risks of their ‘boys’ on the frontline. We were humbled by their fortitude.
The question which we all asked, was do we make a difference? Alternatively, is your money being well spent and having a positive effect? The answer is unquestionably yes. There are a lot of micro efforts like ours both within Ukraine and from outside which all go to help create something very important. The message was clear, better quality western products save the lives of the wounded and are very important to the effort. Micro entities like ours have the great advantage of being able to fulfil requests very accurately without fuss and form filling, bypassing the usual channels enables us to provide the requested aid directly. Requests to us are sent from the brigades on the front line to trusted friends which are then relayed again to support groups in the UK. It takes many raindrops to create a flood!
If we can keep this going the plan is for Paul Parsons and others to take out a further aid convoy in August. If you know of anyone who may be interested in participating either in the UK or driving to Ukraine and fundraising do point them in my direction so I can pass their details to Paul.
Thank you for your kindness and generosity.