Updated: May 7
We made it! 3962 miles, 6 nights, 6.5 days, a lot of coffee and gas station sandwiches! Thank you to each and everyone for supporting us, From Bristol With Love For Ukraine charity and most importantly the people of Ukraine!
Bristol, UK - France - Germany - Austria - Hungary - Galati, East Romania - Hungary - Austria - Germany - France - Bristol, UK.
A fantastic team effort from around the world joining to make this mission happen. EVERY £ DONATED MATTERS, each £ made a difference and made this important shipment of food and 9 heavy duty generators to support hospitals happen!
Thank you for your financial donations and kind words of encouragement before, during and on our return! We would do it again in a heartbeat to help those in Ukraine and be part of such a wonderful team. To everybody who donated and those at From Bristol With Love For Ukraine, what a fantastic team effort!
Our friends of UK, Ireland, Romania, Canada & USA....
Together we raised £3000!!! THANK YOU!!! (keep reading below)
For transparency, here's how donated money was used:
Crowdfunder fundraising service fee
Van Hire, Full Insurance & Extra Mileage (x3000)
Road Tax - French Tolls & Vignettes' for Austria, Hungary & Romania
Other (PPE, weighbridge & vehicle adjustments for European law)
Remaining funds for food & baby milk purchase in Romania via FBWL
(Note - Daily living, personal food, refreshments, overnight stays, travel insurance and cat kennel fees were paid using our own personal funds).
Thank you to Burges Salmon's fitness fundraiser challenge who shared donations towards this mission at short notice. And thank you for allowing Rob the open use of his work phone if/as needed for this important mission.
On the morning of Saturday 16th April we reached Galati, Eastern Romania. Galati is where Romania, Moldova and Ukraine borders meet. This port city by the Danube River is where we met our given Ukrainian contact Dr Kaptalan, a Ukraine official, a wonderful & inspiring man and his volunteer team to deliver our van full of aid that was collected at the Bristol International Centre For Ukraine, sorted & packed by 'From Bristol With Love For Ukraine' charity volunteers.
We now share with you that as well as transporting desperately needed food boxes, we also transported nine heavy duty generators for field hospitals. This will support those affected by war in the Ukraine which includes maternity incubators, field hospitals, refugees and those needing to stay on the front line to serve Ukraine.
The gravity of responsibility for this delivery was huge, we feel so humbled to have been given this trust & support from Dr Razvan Constantinescu, Honorary Consul General of Romania, his wife Ileana and to all the financial donors of this fundraiser believing that we could do this. We feel emotional, connected and relieved that we transported this safely & quickly. This aid was to head directly into Ukraine quickly, whilst we're still travelling home to UK. However, this did have a small unexpected delay due to Odesa coming under missile fire, the transportation vehicles and drivers were needed to transport water aid which took first priority in the moment. Again, a swift reminder of how important this is, people are suffering. The food and generators have since been transported, here's a great photo of a generator arriving at a hospital in Ukraine last week!...
It feels really important that we have connected and made friends with people of Romania and Ukraine. Several emotionally moving hugs were shared.
When we reached Galati on Saturday, we arrived 40 minutes earlier than planned and with a few hours to spare. If we missed this time, the next time available to meet the official would have been Monday which would have meant a very difficult situation about returning to Calais in time for our return. We ended up staying in Galati for the day as the official was on another important mission picking up vital hospital equipment from a Romanian hospital on his way to meet us. We stayed with the aid we were transporting, keeping it safe until it was transferred over in the afternoon.
If we helped just one person transporting this aid that would have been enough, but this will help beyond many. The effects of these generators & food will touch many individuals and communities beyond thought.
We said NO to hotels on the way! Whilst travelling to the border city, we were worried to leave the van of such importance alone. Not only was this aid financially important but also the value and impact the donations will have on human life was even more so. It was amazing how comfortable a bed of generators and an eye mask becomes when you need to grab a cheeky few hours sleep.
A few words from the Ukraine official, Dr Kaptalan, these words are for everybody supporting this mission and all FBWL missions in every way!... "I want to thank from the bottom of my heart you all, all the amazing and generous people from the UK, Ireland, US and Canada! Thank you for everything you do for our Ukrainian people! We appreciate your help a lot."
Here are a few photos of the aid transported and Dr Kaptalan & his volunteer team....
We left Thursday night and by Tuesday evening we had made it back to a cute village not too far from Calais, about an hour'ish, the Eutotunnel was in the AM. Here we took time to reflect and pay our regards to everything achieved this last week. Your money donations, the journey, the physical donations and From Bristol with Love charity & volunteers. But even more so and most importantly, the Ukraine, the people, their injustice, their suffering. What has been transported is going to have an impact on many lives, immediate & those related. On the journey back I was reading the awful updates on Ukraine including the stories of the three children Elisie, Daniil & Ilya, this puts it all into perspective and matter of real importance. Food & nine generators to support field hospitals & incubators will make a difference. It won't fight a war but it will support those in need. Please, imagine this was your story....
We knew you'd have given us permission for this rest, we made good time, we sat at ease nr Calais waiting. We ate a hot dinner and drink a nice drink (personal funds). Our thoughts don't ever leave those in our hearts. It does not stop here!
Along the way we can't deny it, in places off the Autobahns the scenery was wonderful, the video is best with sound, it is the Ukraine National Anthem. A few photos below too. Scenic areas and weather was interesting from 25c dazzling sunshine down to -5c & snow in less than 12 hours, solid Romanian mountain weather we've been assured...
£214.33 was the remaining sum from the journey. This has been put towards a big bulk order of staple foods (pasta, rice, flour, oil & canned goods) and baby milk powders (many moms are struggling to provide milk when suffering shock from war). This purchase was made in Romania at a wholesalers through the charity FBWLFU. Not only does the £ go further in Romania, FBWLFU Charity have created a good relationship with the wholesalers, getting better deals on the price of food too. This also means that what is bought is super relevant and transported to the warehouse within a matter of hours without having to journey across Europe first! Therefor also creating less emissions too!
And now we are home. I hope this, like it has for us, inspires you to know that you, we, can make a difference. In the words of Dr Razvan reflecting on the famous story of the girl and the starfish, "saving that one starfish matters to that starfish!" If ever you're passing by our home in Easter Compton, please drop in a bag of pasta, rice, biscuits, canned food into our porch. We'll pack it at Bristol International Centre For Ukraine and it will soon be on its way in the next transportation. Ukraine really needs food.
Or you can drop by the centre, come see us and say hi, meet the team behind the scenes. The address is 9 Willway St, Bedminster. BS3 4BQ.
Finally, the photo of Rob & myself outside by the Danube River, Ukraine & Moldova borders are in the distance behind. Let's share our thoughts with the Ukraine people, their families, friends, precious land, homes, freedoms, and animals.
May they find safety, we stand with them.
A heartfelt thank you, Jade & Rob Xxx
(And thank goodness for Harry Potter audio books keeping us awake!)