Greener Kirkcaldy volunteer’s Ukraine mission with trucks to help save lives
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Mike Earrey was part of a convoy of 22 drivers which set off from Edinburgh with Jeeps For Peace Ukraine, a UK based initiative which is trying to deliver 100 second-hand four wheel drive vehicles, loaded with supplies to the country.
Their journey took them to Newcastle for a sailing to Amsterdam and then a 600-mile drive to Wrocław in Poland. After an overnight stop, they finally reached the city of Wrocław in Ukraine where, despite arriving at their hotel at 11:00pm, staff laid on a wonderful meal. They still had one more major journey ahead, a 350-mile drive to the border to get the trucks to their destination.
The 78-year old, who is a cycle ride leader with the Lang Toun charity, is planning a return journey in October, and is fundraising at www.justgiving.com – search for Michael Earrey.
He said: “it is high pressure, but it it is a beautiful country, and it great to see the people cheered by the support they are getting from people in the UK.”
Mike gave an insight into his most recent journey in a blog shared on his fundraising page. He wrote: “What started off as just an adventure turned out to be a journey that helped us understand the situation in the Ukraine. The people were genuinely wonderful and welcoming, the countryside was beautiful with farms with villagers which appeared to be out of the 19th-century, women riding their bicycles to the shop, old men trudging to their work. What was strikingly obvious what is the absence of young male residents …”
The vehicles that were taken were fairly elderly 4x4 trucks donated by well wishers or purchased at low prices, but which were sound and roadworthy - and they helped to make a difference. “We know that our vehicles have already saved lives” said Mike.
His journey took him to the city of Lviv which had come under rocket fire just days earlier, killing and injuring many people.
The human cost of conflict was evident on a trip to a cemetery the following morning.
Mike wrote: “We were taken to one of the war cemeteries, where nearly 500 young men have been buried in the last 18 months. We were told that this was just one of five cemeteries in the city, and that cities and towns all over the country had the same.
“In the warm early morning sunshine I remember seeing a young mother with a small child in a pram standing quietly beside a grave. One of my driver colleagues gave her a warm hug, which she returned. It was a very poignant moment that I will never forget.”
The sound of air raid sirens was another reminder of the dangers people face on an almost daily basis in a city Mike described as “beautiful” -a place where people mingled in bars and restaurants during the evening.
The drivers were presented with certificates after completing the delivery of the trucks before they began their return journey. A convoy of mini-buses took them to the Polish border.
“We saw a queue of vehicles well over a mile long, waiting to be called forward to the border. We saw families with young children, old people, children’s bicycles and car roofs piled high with possessions all fleeing from the conflict.”
Going back to help is in his DNA.
“Volunteering is an important part of life for me and for many people in Scotland and the rest of the UK. It can help other people, the local environment and the whole planet,” he said. “I would very much like to ensure that, although more than 100 vehicles have already been delivered, there are sufficient funds to continue with the sourcing and delivery of additional vehicles.
"During my visit I saw that the Ukraine is a beautiful country with wonderful people. I hope that I can help make a difference to the threat that it is now facing. A threat that faces more than just the Ukraine.”