- By Mike Allison on Mon, 08th June 2015
After several ‘ loading days’ on Sunday mornings with many of the team driving long distances just to be there the job was almost completed. Today Monday 8th June with a small team – well, just three of us – we loaded the final three tonnes and now the manifest will be completed and sent to team member Liena in Gomel, Belarus for final checking with the receivers. Target departure date is Thursday 18th June and the ferry Hull to Rotterdam. Paul Campey, owner of the transport company Campeys of Selby and a long time member of the aid team with many convoys to Belarus under his belt, will be the driver. As Paul is using one of his own vehicles he will, as on previous convoys, plan to bring a ‘back load’ from Poland which greatly helps to defray the costs of the journey.
The load is a mixture of items that includes all the personal things such as clothing, footwear, toiletries, craft etc. The receiver of the major part of the load will be the Gomel Regional Education department who are planning to open a second centre at which children with ‘social problems’ can spend four weeks experiencing a time of activity and team work. The first centre is now in its third year and our aid team is credited with being responsible for 50.% of its very existence as we have made three previous deliveries to them. A large part of the load for this new centre is furniture, wardrobes, beds, bedding, chairs, and tables, Then lots of household items for the kitchen such as pottery, plates and bowls, cups, mugs and cutlery. Most of these items have been generously donated by IKEA . Over 150 tins of trade paint of many colours donated by Whittles of Nottingham fulfill a specific request from the receivers. APC Clothing of Tadcaster have supported our aid activities for over 15 years and along with our Knit and Natter teams we are sending over 200 boxes ( 2.5 tonnes) of super new clothes in this load.
A second receiver will be the Diabetic Association in Gomel which has over 1000 children and adults on its books. Our aid to them is not medical but as these families spend most of their disposable income on medicines our supply of basic items is a great help to them. We have made many previous deliveries to this association and most of the aid for them is procured and packed by our team in Longnor, Buxton the home of Barbara and David Cox.
We plan another delivery to Belarus in late September and another delivery in April 2016
Mike Allison June 2015
- By Mike Allison on Mon, 20th April 2015
We discharged from the ferry at 8am on Wednesday 8th April to make the short drive (90 mins) from Hull to our base near Selby. Despite the work during the previous 12 days and the fatigue that seemed to be with us all we still needed to load 12 pallets of aid onto Alan’s vehicle before he and Bob set off for home in Stockton on Tees. The aid will be a start for Alan’s next load and the aim was also to free up space within the main warehouse.
Within an hour or so and after a handshake and a few hugs the team made off towards their own homes with many memories and stories to tell and maybe embellish a little in the future. We all know what happens to a good story – they get better with age!
Nevertheless we had experiences, situations and tasks that kept us on our toes throughout the convoy period and the plan worked, aid delivered, meetings held and visits made – Job Done!
Four vehicles and eight in the team we made the crossing of Europe in good time and without problem and even the customs crossing Poland to Belarus was pretty standard. On entering Belarus the vehicles split with Alan and Bob taking a northern route to Lida near Grodno to a charity that supports children with cancer. Mick, Mike, in their vehicle and Jen and Veronica headed north east into the centre of Belarus to deliver one vehicle to the town of Rogachev and where an association of families with disabled children received the aid. Nearby in the forests a home for mentally challenged adults was the target for the smaller van load. Meanwhile the fourth vehicle driven by Bryan and Kevin had traveled due east 350 miles to the city of Gomel right on the border with Mother Russia. Their aid was for a charity that supports the disabled and the poor city dwellers living in high rise flats. Many of these people were originally country village folk with a small detached wooden house, land, animals etc and lived a poor but independent life. After the Chernobyl explosion they were evacuated and rehoused in flats many of which have just two rooms.
The vibes we all got from the receivers were of real gratitude, enthusiasm and excitement on viewing the wide range of aid. Without exception they all expressed there thanks to our wider team at home for just caring about their unfortunate situation where many of the basic things in life are either not available or too expensive. We stayed in their flats and enjoyed their hospitality and it was humbling to us that they gave us all they had when it was very easy to see that life for them is a constant struggle.
On returning to Gomel we had meetings with the director of Gomel Region Education, a department that covers many schools and institutions in the region. We visited a home for disabled children, a large centre used as an activity camp for children from the villages and to where we have sent much of the equipment on display and then to a proposed similar facility just 1 km from the Ukraine border. They hope to have this place open this summer to host young children from ‘socially dangerous situations’.
Alan and Bob had delivered their aid and traveled through to the capital Minsk, to the village of Lapichi which Alan described as he poorest he had seen, and down to Brest where they visited families known to them. We all met up at the border there to exit Belarus on the way home.
So many people to thank. The eight of us were the lucky ones as we had the experience and received the gratitude of the people we met in Belarus but as always there are many others involved that have worked so hard in the preparation for convoy, our suppliers of the aid, our generous donors and fund raisers without whom non of this would happen. We would also like to thank those in Belarus who run the organisations for unfortunate children and adults in their own country – they do it with compassion and without payment and we salute them for that.
Mike Allison April 2015
- By Mike Allison on Sun, 22nd March 2015
With 29th March fast approaching we enter the final phase of preparation for the departure on convoy to Belarus. Collections of much needed quality aid were made this week firstly from Nottingham were Whittle Program Painting provided over 160 tins of trade paint of all colours. Whittle have generously supplied us previously and their paint is much desired by the schools, institutions and family homes in Belarus and we receive regular requests once they, the receivers in Belarus, know that a convoy is planned.
On Tuesday it was another journey to Longnor in Staffordshire just over the Derbyshire border near Buxton again to the home of Barbara and David Cox where they and their team were preparing for our arrival. The aid was ready to load and the paperwork complete which meant that this smaller truck was now complete and its next journey would be to Belarus as part of the convoy.
APC Clothing from Tadcaster in Yorkshire, a very regular provider to us of new surplus children’s clothing called to offer a collection and we made this on Thursday. Some 17 boxes of a mixture of school clothing, uniforms and sports kit that will very welcome to so many schools and families.
So today 22 March the convoy team met at our Yorkshire base to load one of the smaller vans and further load the large trailer. The usual excitement prior to convoy was very evident with many questions of where, when, and what ifs among the agenda.
Hopefully by early next week we will be able to finalise all the documentation, confirm the receivers, book the ferry etc. More next week.
- By Mike Allison on Sun, 08th March 2015
Footballs and Tennis balls are among the requests recently received from schools in Belarus who are desperately short of sports items that cannot be purchased from their limited budget. We are appealing for all types of balls but particularly soccer and tennis. These can make a real difference to the activities at the schools and in the villages. We leave on convoy on 29th March and it would be good to load as many as possible. If you can help please post to Chernobyl Aid UK at The Wickets, Chapel Street Hillam LS25 5HP
- By Mike Allison on Mon, 02nd March 2015
Aid team members numbering sixteen arrived at 9.30 on Sunday morning to commence the loading of a 44ft trailer. They had journeyed from Staffordshire, Stockton on Tees and Catterick, Lancashire, North Leeds and local. The weather held allowing us to remove over 20 pallets of aid stored on the vehicle and then to commence the task of loading almost seven tonnes of aid by hand. We load to fill the cube using every bit of space available – a long job and hard work but by 2pm we had the vehicle two thirds full and it was time for home. It was a great effort and a great day but very similar to previous experiences when this team of volunteers get together. The job will be completed in the next two weeks.
Meanwhile in Stockton on Tees the local team there completed the loading of the huge box van that will take over 8 tonnes of aid to Lapichi, a village south east of the capital Minsk in Belarus. This is a new destination for Chernobyl Aid UK and we look forward to meeting the locals there.
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