A blog about aid for Ukraine
‘Can I help you with transport’, said the man with a van. Now I don’t usually talk about Divine providence but when a man just happens to offer a van and driver in a church that has many generous donations for people seeking refuge from war, then that really feels like some benevolent being is helping! Jasper has been a supporter for years although we’d never met previously but we’d often benefited from his donations of goods in the past . Here he was in St Mary’s Church in Brecon offering to help sort donations and to take them to Neath! Truly amazing.
Just to recap, Russia invaded Ukraine on 24th February 2022 causing many people to flee to neighbouring countries creating an immediate humanitarian crisis on the borders. On 26th February HBTSR resolved that we must do something practical and noted our friends in Swansea Humanitarian Aid Response Project [ SHARP] suggestion that people support an appeal launched by the NMCC Church in Neath to send aid to the Polish Ukrainian border. The church has a member with links with the Polish Red Cross and they requested :-
Medical supplies (First aid kits, plasters, bandages, antiseptic creams, Paracetamol etc)
– Toiletries (Shampoo, wet wipes, sanitary towels, soap etc)
– Children’s dried milk & Toiletries (Nappies, sudocrem, etc).
Gail at Borderer’s Guest house, herself a serial philanthropist, asked if there was something she could do other than just worry and feel useless. She agreed to check out the NMCC church and to take a small load to them. It was a relief to learn that the Pastor at the church had contingency plans to involve additional transport if needed [ and we suspected that it would be needed ] and was aware about the customs forms. She rushed out on Monday and cleared shelves in Aldi! She offered her premises as a sorting point and she and Rowland were going to take a trip to Neath on Tuesday.
HBTSR posted on Facebook that we were linking to NMCC and sent an email on Monday to all supporters about a very focused collection and giving other options to do something including the information that
The Red Cross, UNICEF, UNHCR and International Rescue Committee all have appeals. and a link giving other ideas for help
St Mary’s Church in Brecon and in Hay had both agreed to be drop off points and many local schools were very keen to join in. At the time of writing, Gwernyfed and Brecon High schools, Hay, Clyro, Cradoc and Llangorse primary schools are involved.
Dixies Corner in Brecon are also sending items to the Polish/Ukrainian border and have like us been amazed by the generosity of people who all want to do something to help in this terrible situation. It seems that so many people want to do something practical to help cope with the feeling of powerlessness that the war is causing. Sending money just doesn’t quite cut it.
By Tuesday morning, it was obvious that Gail’s car was not large enough to fit the first tranche of goods and two hours after the church had been emptied there was a even larger collection of items to replace them! Jasper and Gail drove to Neath, were welcomed and stunned by the volume of goods already there.
to be continued=====================================================
Miracles continue! At St Mary’s in Brecon the Cafe Staff had obviously worked hard all morning trying to sort out the mass of donations that were pouring in. At St Mary’s in Hay, Christina and friends were trying to do the same.
When I arrived in Brecon at 1pm the area we had left tidy was totally rammed with donations and people just kept bringing more. Susanne, Carola and Gail had offered to help and then suddenly Lis and Jeannie were there too. It was obvious that we’d not manage to get even an eighth of the donations into a car.. what to do?
I wandered off to buy some more labels and pens and saw a friend crossing the road. She enquired why I was looking concerned and I told her that we needed to find a man with a van. Long story short, she rang her son who happens to be a manager at the multi Award winning Old Railway Garden Centre and at 3.30 he turned up with a massive van and proceeded to load all the boxes that the team had managed to label into the van.
We’d picked up a car full of donations from Brecon High School where teacher Meriel Gillespie had arranged for pupils to sort and box and label goods for us and her colleague arranged for pupils to help load up the car. These were added to Joe’s load and we went to Neath.
It was lovely to visit NMCC church and meet so many charming, kind and cheerful spirits who were remarkably calm about yet more goods arriving when they had just unloaded another van and had several others queueing up to drop off. They formed a human chain and the van emptied quickly, although Joe was still very late home after a long day of work.
Another extraordinary day of being with amazing people!
Jasper filled his van with most of the donations from Gwernyfed school and then went to St Mary’s church in Brecon to help sort donations. Lawrence went to Hay to help pack items from Hay St Mary’s church where Christina and friends were busy. He then also picked up as much as he could from Hay school and helped by Ali S who went to Clyro School all the aid from Hay and Clyro and Gwernyfed schools came to Brecon . Again Pupils helped to load up vehicles at their schools! Christina and friends brought sorted bags and boxes from Hay. I picked up from Llangorse school and some additional donations left at our house! Meanwhile ,again aid poured in and again people came and stayed and sorted. Gail, Carola, Rowland, Sue, Allie and a number of other lovely people worked flat out for several hours so that we could have everything sorted and labelled before the large van arrived that was loaned by Tailored Imports ,Three Cocks and driven by employee Andy. Cradoc school called in with a delivery as did Sarah from the Cathedral with Fay Jones helping her to carry things.
when I arrived after pick ups i thought maybe the sheer volume of donations was reduced until i realised that there were three teams working across the church to sort, box and label! The Tower cafe staff remained incredibly tolerant and helpful!
Again so many people thanked us for doing this as it made them feel that they could help a little in what otherwise felt like a hopeless situation. So although giving money directly to a charity on the ground could help more, the actual value of concrete demonstrations of solidarity and compassion cannot be over-estimated. And there is little more concrete than such an enormous pile of items and a constant stream of kind people.
We were welcomed warmly again by the people working hard at NMCC church and our long term friend Ruth of SHARP was helping out . It was good to see her again. The church is so full of aid that they are determined to ensure gets to where it needs to be and the plans they had for transport are being rethought. They had hoped to self drive a couple of sprinter vans but realised quickly when several sprinter vans came with aid that they would need far bigger transport. We left them pondering that dilemma but promising to see what we could do to help locate and fund.
during these three days most of our local schools have had assemblies about refugees and pupils have had a chance to show compassion. Many in our community have had spirits raised by feeling they could do something positive in the face of overwhelming negativity. And this massive demonstration of support for people seeking refuge may generalise to all people in need of sanctuary. It’s hard to put a price upon this for a group dedicated to helping refugees.
A day of saying thank you to many of the people and places involved in helping with this appeal. We delivered thank you notes to Brecon and Gwernyfed High Schools, Clyro, Cradoc, Hay and Llangorse primary Schools, to the two St Mary’s Churches, to the Cathedral, to the Tower cafe, to the Garden Centre and to Tailored imports and some emails to the team of helpers including Jasper, Carola, Gail, Rowland, Christina, Sue, Ali S and Allie E and a letter to the Brecon and Radnor Express to thank the local population.
Ailsa Dunn secretary for Hay, Brecon & Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees [ 1173570]