- By Mike Allison on Mon, 08th August 2016
On July 20th two vehicles departed Hillam on route for Belarus and the town of Stolin situated in the south west and just a few miles from the border with Ukraine. This was a new destination for the charity and aimed at a public association that supports young people with disabilities. Our vehicles carried a wide range of aid including wheelchairs, walking aids and some very expensive mobility stretchers designed for the severely handicapped. Incontinent pads, prams and pushchairs, fridges, beds, bedding, toys, clothing and footwear and many other items made up the ten tonne total delivery.
Within the team of four was Alan, Bob and Ian from Stockton on Tees and myself from Hillam. Alan is a colleague Trustee of our charity and a Rotarian having been the recent president of the Stockton Rotarians.
The Rotarians in Stockton linked with Rotary International had asked Alan to source a project in Belarus that they could and would support if it met their stringent criteria. So we had two targets – the delivery of aid and the sourcing, or not, of a new project.
On the outward journey almost across Poland we had a major breakdown of the large truck from Stockton – Friday night and the part required in Sweden and not due until 9am on the Monday. So Alan and I travelled on to cross into Belarus leaving our colleagues to spend the weekend in Poland.
The customs procedure was followed by the unloading of the truck in Stolin into a customs registered warehouse. The receiver was called Mikhail. He was the chairperson of the committee of 12. That day he was opening a summer camp for ten children from different schools and villages and all with some problem either of behaviour or medical.
We travelled in the minibus with these kids most of whom just did not want to be there and as we travelled south towards the Ukraine border we tried to communicate. We had some success with Rooney, Messe and Beckham. Arriving at the camp site we watched as Mikhail briefed the kids then organised the tent pitching. We were very impressed with his attitude and he soon has the kids active and participating in setting- up the camp and then into pottery making.
After food, prepared by his helpers, we travelled to the village of Luca where Mikhail intends to build a home for six disabled young adults and provide shelter for the old people, all from the local villages.
The wooden buildings situated in several acres of scrub land were totally dilapidated with no power or water but Mikhail had been given permission by the authorities to use the area and the local villagers had promised to help. Mikhail was not aware of Alan’s search for a project and still isn’t but he asked for help. I mentioned to our interpreter, Elena, that this was his dream and she told him which sponsored a reply “it is not a dream – it will happen” Full marks to him. Elena informed Alan and I that we were now going to see a project that Mikhail had completed and that the original building was in a poorer state than those that we had just viewed.
Travelling back into Stolin to the new centre we were surprised to see that the roof of the building was covered with solar panels.
The lighting inside was LED, the walls were timber clad and the floors tiled with all the facilities modern and functional. The current activity is for disabled young adults to make pottery items for sale and to give them an income from the proceeds. In the larger room they hope to educate disabled youngsters in computing and so we are wanting second hand laptops that we can clean and take out there in October. Can you help? We need 20!
The following day Bob and Ian arrived from Poland, their vehicle repaired and after unloading we all retraced our steps from the previous day. Travelling to within 1km of the border with Ukraine we were stopped by the Belarusian border guards but after a brief discussion we were allowed to drive on for the short journey to the camp site.
Then to Mikhail’s ‘dream’ project and the completed centre for a second viewing. We met with Nicholai the chair of the local Red Cross and Viktor the director of a company in Agriculture both supporters of Mikhail’s projects.
Alan will consider with Rotary colleagues if Mikhail’s project warrants their support and we, Chernobyl Aid UK will deliver aid including paint, building material, beds and furniture and, of course laptops, on a future convoy.
Many thanks to our sponsors and suppliers of aid – Lowes Financial Management, Ikea, SCA, Whittles Paint, APC Clothing and all our many regular suppliers of knitted garments, footwear, clothing and bedding etc.
We are grateful for the help of our interpreter Elena from Pinsk in Belarus whose services we were using for the first time on convoy and, as always, Liena Fedorchuk our resident team member in Gomel who co-ordinates all our convoy activities in Belarus.
As usual our aid team, all volunteers, were readily available in the preparation, loading and delivery of the aid. No time to rest though as our next convoys already in the planning stage for October this year and April 2017.
Mike Allison. August 7th 2016
- By Mike Allison on Sun, 10th April 2016
Three vehicles carrying a total weight of 22 Tonnes of humanitarian aid left Yorkshire by the Hull Ferry to Europort, Rotterdam on Tuesday 22nd March to travel across Europe to Belarus.
The demand for places on this convoy was such that we added a support estate car with three occupants so with two in each on the trucks we had a team of nine. This vehicle became very useful as we will explain later. Paul and David Campey, son and father in that order, drove the articulated vehicle, Bob Beech and Andy Wardle in the large box van from Stockton on Tees, Alan Miles and Mike Allison in the 7.5 tonner. The estate car was driven by Aidan Siney accompanied by Jen Allison who handled the photography and internet communications and Emily Wardle making her first convoy. Emily, 21, and a fully qualified HGV class one driver gained valuable experience driving the large vehicles in Europe causing many other drivers to take a second look as they could not believe their eyes at a girl in charge of such a large vehicle.
The journey across Europe was uneventful apart from the usual long delays in the customs. We are never sure of the real reason for the delays but it doesn’t seem to get any better!
Crossing into Belarus at Kozlevichi on the Friday morning Paul and David headed due East to Gomel just 30 miles from the Russian Border – 350 miles and arriving at 11pm to be met but Liena Fedorchuk our team member and co-ordinator of all or work in Belarus.
The other vehicles travelled North East to Rogachev and the Zlobyn customs. Ira Laptev and her son Alexie of the Rogachev association for families with disabled children met us at 10.30pm and, once the vehicles were parked securely, transported us to flats (3) where we were to spend the night. Alexie speaks English and has worked with convoy teams for many years so was to be our interpreter.
Up early Bob and Aidan made for the Zlobyn customs before joining us at the Rogachev school of music where we viewed the children using instruments and sheet music delivered by Alan Wade and Bob on the previous convoy. This is a very special school and the concert they provided for us was easily the best we have seen on our many visits to Belarus. Lots of skill on various instruments and loads of versatility in their performance.
The children displayed not only skill but enthusiasm and commitment to learn. They were obviously high achievers and our donated instruments and music has meant that they have a real chance to develop their music ability.
The dancer’s costumes were made by their tutors and parents from materials we delivered earlier this year. The school is receiving national acclaim for the standards of performance it’s pupils display in the music competitions they enter. When we delivered a drum kit earlier we omitted to load the foot pedal for the large drum so we took it this time and came across the drummer accompanying a trumpet player and his Tutor and doing really well but without his foot pedal. The smile on his face when we produced the missing item had to be seen.
Next it was to Vikov and a very different place. We have supported this institution for the physically and mentally handicapped over the years and we were pleased to see the improvements made in that the building is now well painted, clean and bright. The director was keen to show the care given to the patients many of whom are bedridden. She explained that the fabric and appearance of the building was important but that her ‘people’ needed just to be warm, fed and to feel secure in their environment and that the aid we bring makes all the difference to what they, the carers, can do to support them. We will continue to take aid to this unit as the need is ongoing and the help from their authorities insufficient.
Back at the Association’s warehouse and it was time to unload the large box van and the support car. Many hands helped to complete the job in less than an hour and after a brief wash up we were off to a meal in a local restaurant that turned into a party particularly for Alan Miles who was celebrating his 70th birthday. It was a great three hours and just the start of the celebrations for Alan as our hosts repeated the good wishes with birthday cakes on all the visits. Leaving Rogachev at 9pm we drove almost two hours to arrive in Gomel at 11pm and meet up with Paul, David and Liena and our hotel by the station.
Sunday was spent visiting friends while the local customs cleared the paperwork for the 7.5 Tonner then we met early evening at the Diabetic Association to unload the aid and have a meal and meeting with the DA people again included was a cake for Alan.
On Monday the trailer was unloaded into a large room at Grabovka school on behalf of the Gomel regional education department who will use the aid to open kindergartens, supply schools and institutions and provide help for the poorest families in their area.
We visited the school and the various classrooms, talked to the pupils in class and were treated to a performance of singing and dancing by the children. It was a very good visit and the relationship between the pupils and teachers was very special resulting in happy confident children. Another lovely meal and another cake for Alan.
Tuesday we set of for home early and leaving the outskirts of Gomel at what we call the ‘kissing place’, as that is where we say “goodbye” to Liena and others, we made good progress. After probably 15 minutes or travel I realised that I had left my paperwork at the hotel, a first ever but it should not happen as I could not leave the country without it.
A quick call to Liena who by now was almost back to the centre of Gomel near the hotel and within a few minutes she called to say “I have your papers”. This was where the support car became more than useful as Aidan quickly backtracked to the kissing place to be met by Liena while the trucks continued for the border some 350 miles away. We were all soon back in line and the problem solved.
Some 2 hours short of the border with Poland we stopped to meet with Papa Seigie, a priest, who is planning to open a hospice for children in or near the town of Stolin just a couple of miles from the border with the Ukraine. The meeting was on behalf of another charity, CCLL, who asked that we made the meeting for information purposes and it is possible that we may, in the future, make an aid delivery on their behalf.
The aid we took to Belarus was of a wide range of commodities including kitchen utensils, bowls, mugs, dinner plates and drinking glasses, toiletries, soap powders, clothes, footwear, bedding, beds, tables, incontinent pads and pampers, household paint and carpets, toys, games and many other items. We had over 100 pairs of children’s spectacles kindly donated by White Rose Optical in Wakefield. The receivers make specific requests to us based on the requirements of those they support. Many of the families we support spend the greater part of their low incomes on medical items for their sick and disabled children leaving very little for the basics.
They are always very thankful for our help and we are grateful to all who support our charity in whatever way. Without the help of our suppliers of aid, our knit and natter groups, Ikea, APC clothing, Whittles Paint etc. and our fund raisers and donors we would not be able to give this support.
The convoy team enjoyed greatly the interaction with the children and their carers, their teachers, parents, and the companionship from being part of the aid team. As is usual the team pay their own expenses for hotels and food and we do not pay anyone a salary or personal expenses either in UK or Belarus. It is something that we are proud of as a charity and ensures that all donations are used solely in the operating costs involved with our ability to make the aid deliveries to Belarus.
Many thanks and best wishes to you all.
Mike Allison. Chair Trustee. Chernobyl Aid UK 8th April 2016
- By Mike Allison on Mon, 23rd November 2015
On October 23rd two trucks and over 10 tonnes of aid left the Hull docks on route for Belarus. Alan Wade, Bob Beech and Mick Riley, all from Stockton on Tees. were accompanied by Mike Allison from Hillam, Yorkshire. Alan and Bob’s vehicle was displaying it’s new livery with our logo and colour, something we were all pleased to see and are very proud of. The plan is to similarly sign the smaller truck within the next two months and certainly before the Spring convoy.
The journey to Belarus was not too much of a challenge apart from serious traffic delays in Germany (three hours lost there) and a ‘lock in’ at the Polish customs (another three long hours lost) but we arrived at the Zhlobyn customs in the centre of the country after three days of travel. Once cleared we made delivered to the Rogachev Association for families with disabled children. The title is an accurate description of their role which they have undertaken for over 20 years. Receiving no help from their authorities the charity brings together parents and children to share general and common problems. It is disappointing that were previously they had several rooms in their centre they now have just two which includes the office! We saw an art class where youngsters with learning difficulties were being instructed in working with Plasticine to produce pictures and we were all given art work previously produced.
Our aid was a wide range of basic items and included almost three tonnes of incontinent pads that the charity were instructed to share with two local institutions, Zhuravichi and Vikov, that cater for the physically and mentally disabled youngsters and adults. Also we were carrying a massive donation, 450 kg, of sheet music and instruments specifically for the Rogachev School of Music who will share with other schools. We enjoyed a meal and discussion with the committee who stressed just how much they depend on the support from the UK as they, their families, spend most of their money on medicines for their sick children with very little left for basic items such as clothing and particularly footwear. So we are appealing for such items along with soap, toothpaste and brushes for our next convoy.
Next day we arrived at the Gomel customs with the second vehicle and then unloaded at The Gomel Diabetic Association another similar independent charity receiving no support from their authorities and relying on charity both from in Belarus and elsewhere. Our load was 2.5 tonnes of clothing, footwear, toiletries , incontinent pads etc packed and collected from our group in Longnor near Buxton in Derbyshire. The association has over 750 diabetics, children and adults, who each receive just $120 per month for their medical needs and again, as with the Rogachev charity they appeal for the basics they find hard to afford once additional much needed medical items have been purchased.
We had another splendid meal once the unloading process was complete and learned in discussion that the number of diabetic cases in the city of Gomel far outstripped that of other areas and that those affected, in many cases, become further inflicted with cancers. The declaration was made after we asked what influence the explosion at Chernobyl had made to the number of diabetic cases and was it still relevant after almost 39 years.
We were well encouraged by the reception and information we had from both of these receivers and plan to make further deliveries next year.
We had a meeting and meal with Liena Fedorchuk. our team member in Gomel. who is the link between our UK operation and all out receivers in Belarus and then headed for the return journey across Europe and home.
This convoy like so many in the past and, no doubt, those in the future is down to the work of so many people who give their time and effort free of charge to collect the aid, load the vehicles, raise funds, supply the aid etc. In all a remarkable team effort.
Shortly we will have completed the loading of the large trailer which hopefully will make the journey to Belarus with a massive load for the Gomel Regional Education department that is opening adventure camps for children. The load includes many items such as beds, chairs and tables, pots and pans, etc supplied by Ikea and soap powders, school equipment for learning and sports. It includes household paint supplied by Whittles Programmed Paint along with other aid that will make a real difference to what they are able to achieve for the children.
Mike Alison November 2015
- By Mike Allison on Tue, 06th October 2015
September 2015 Newsletter
July 1st 2014 to June 30th 2015
After15 years of making aid deliveries to Belarus the team have just completed their first year as an independent charity. Deliveries of humanitarian aid were made in November 2014 and April and June this year. Two vehicles are due to leave on 23rd October, a third in late November and a four vehicles convoy is planned for April 2016
Our dynamic Fund raisers
Chernobyl Fun Day. In late August Alan and Vera Wade of Stockton on Tees and their team, supported by the Stockton Rotary International Committee, staged a Horse and Dog Show. The event also included ‘The Chernobyl Chase’ Two races featuring Shetland Ponies. Dodging the showers the day proved to be very popular with those taking part in the various sections requesting a similar day next year. Many donations received were gift aided and the total raised exceeded £3000 towards our funds..
Chernobyl Coffee Morning at Warslow Hall. Derbyshire.
Barbara and David Cox and our team from Longnor nr Buxton in Derbyshire organised this event.
Barbara writes…’The Chernobyl team felt enormously privileged that Mr Roger Pegg allowed them to hold a coffee morning at Warslow Hall on August 25th in aid of Chernobyl Aid (UK) and what a wonderful experience it turned out to be. The morning was warm and sunny, the Hall and gardens stunning and the view magnificent.
Mr Pegg kindly permitted guests the use of his elegant dining and sitting rooms where they could sit and enjoy the furnishings, old family photographs, gorgeous flower arrangements and let their imaginations run wild. Gift Aided donations from many of those attending raised a total of over £3600.
Margaret Miles staged her monthly coffee morning at the Church Fenton Methodist Chapel in September and raised some £250 for our convoy funds on this occasion. Margaret has raised over £40000 for charities over the years and we have benefitted several times in the past.
Rogachev Family Association.
“Our members are 120 families each with a disabled child and we support many other families who live in very difficult situations. Your support makes a tremendous difference to their lives and we are very grateful to our British friends for your valued and continue support.”
The Gomel Diabetic Association.
“With over 1000 children and adults depending on our support the aid we receive from your convoys is vital. The families have very little money or support from our authorities. After spending our money on medicines etc. it leaves very little left for basic items”.
Gomel Regional Education Department “The aid you bring especially the Ikea items, Paint , and sports equipment have allowed us to open summer camps for children in ‘socially threatening situations’. Without your help this would not have been possible and we are very grateful to our friends from UK”
The charity ‘Health Hope and Help’ have similarly delivered aid to Belarus for over 15 years and due to ill health among their senior members they have decided reluctantly to cease their operation. We were indeed fortunate to receive a cheque for £1100 from their remaining funds with their best wishes for our continued success.
Many thanks from the Aid Team to all our supporters and valued sponsors whose donations make our convoys possible.
- By Mike Allison on Mon, 06th July 2015
Two Sunday ago Paul Campey returned from Belarus having delivered over 12 tonnes of aid to the town of Gomel in the east of the country and just 30 miles from the border with Mother Russia. Using a unit from his own company, Campeys of Selby, to tow our trailer Paul was able to bring a ‘back load’ from Poland for delivery into Manchester so our return costs to the UK were much reduced.
The Gomel Regional Education Department responsible for many schools, institutions and activity centres in the Gomel region received almost 10 tonnes of aid. The balance of the load went to the Gomel Diabetic Association and was provided by our team based at the home of Barbara and David Cox at Nab End Farm at Longnor near Buxton in Derbyshire. The Diabetic Association has over 1000 children and adults all who directly benefit from the deliveries.
The aid delivered to the education department is to be used to equip activity centres currently hosting children from ‘socially dangerous situations’ and to equip a new centre south of the city towards the border with Ukraine.
The director of the Education Department emailed this comment to me last week: “Thank you very much for your help, the 06/23/2015. Wonderful IKEA furniture and utensils needed for Teryuha camps and schools. Pampers – a great help to people with disabilities at the Centre Brilevo. Paint and carpet need to prepare schools for the new school year in September. Pillows are very good for kindergartens and camps. Many thanks to your team. Greetings from Helena Erokhina.”
Large quantities of the aid was generously donated by IKEA, we had a large quantity of super trade paint from Whittles the Nottingham specialist decorators. Steve Fox of Stockton on Tees provided carpet tiles and the soap powder and our Knit and Natter groups from several areas produced many super items of clothing and bedding that was much appreciated. To all our providers of aid, our fund raisers and generous donators we are very grateful and pass on the thanks of the people in Belarus.
The end of June was the end of our fiscal year – yes our new charity Chernobyl Aid UK is one year old. During the year we have made aid deliveries in November 2014 to the Education department in Gomel Then in April to Lida in the North West Belarus to a children’s cancer charity, to Rogachev Association for disabled children, to Vikov an institution for mentally and physically handicapped young adults and the White Dove charity in Gomel. Then the just completed delivery to the Ed Department and the Diabetic Association in Gomel. A great start following on from our record of the previous 15 years as the aid team for CCP UK and many previous deliveries.
As an independent charity we have had to register with the Charities Commission, the tax people (HMRC), open our bank account, appoint Trustees and treasurer and of course raise our own funds. During this period Alan Judd acted as treasurer and guided us through the many and varied procedures. Alan continues as an active member but has relinquished his position as treasurer and Alan Miles has now filled that role.
We now have to prepare our accounts for the financial year and I am happy to inform all that we have acquired the services of qualified accountant Barry Wilkinson who has kindly accepted the job and shortly we will publish our first annual accounts and report.
It has been a really successful year and not without its challenges. The coming year promises already to be just as formidable but with the support of our sponsors, suppliers of aid and our hard working team of volunteers who raise funds, donate and load our vehicles we will be well up to the job.
The changes and improvement to life in Belarus in recent years is very evident for some but for many who are sick, disabled and living in poverty things are just as difficult. They are so grateful for our help and we should and will continue to support them.
Mike Allison. July 2015
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