EASTER CONVOY Thursday 12th April 2007:
After a relatively straightforward journey back across Europe, all trucks arrived safely back home, Two Taffs the last ones home (probably) at 04.30 hours today Friday 13th. (Tina thanks for the early morning text alarm!) They all would have been home a few hours earlier if it hadn't been for the joys of industrial relations at Calais - they arrived at the port at about 4.30pm to be told by the port authorities that P & O were having a one hour go-slow! Instead of being allowed to go through and park up, the convoy was told they would have to drive back out of the port (along with all other P & O vehicles) and park up somewhere else for an hour! Well they did, but when re-joining the queue, they went straight through but then had to wait for the 9pm (French time) ferry.
A job well done and another convoy completed then, apart from the usual rush to clean trucks and return them, put away personal gear and get the washing machines working overtime!
11 April 08.00
Just crossed into Slovakia and heading towards Bratislava. The weather is perfect. Frantic has had his batteries replaced last night and all the trucks are in fine fettle now. UK here we come.
Monday 9th April.
The convoy left the warehouse for the UK at 10am. Empty tucks and empty warehouse and all aid delivered to those unfortunate souls that needed our help.
Remaining behind were the second airborne crew who fly out on Monday afternoon - Graham, Ed, Olli, Gaynor, Liz, Maggie and Steve. They spent some of the day in Pristina - Maggie spent a significant amount of her time in a bridal shop trying on dresses (Coxy take note)! They all arrived safely back at Gatwick at 7pm on Monday evening.
The convoy made good progress after being delayed at Kosovo/Serbian border for 3 hours. They then stopped overnight in North Serbia at Subotica hoping to cross into Hungry early on Tuesday morning. (Steve Walsh)
Easter Sunday 8th April
Everyone is now tired, but we have cleared the warehouse and delivered all the aid as planned. 'Frantic' is waiting for Iveco Service to come to the warehouse to look at his truck. 'Roxy M' had to replace a tyre, due to a puncture last night, but apart from that all is well. The trucks should all return to the warehouse here in Pristina fully fuelled within the next couple of hours, ready for the drive back to the UK tomorrow. They plan to leave at 08.30am Monday and all being well should be back home late Thursday or Friday.
This has been another worthwhile trip delivering aid directly to those that need it. If having read any of these reports you would like to become involved with Hope and Aid Direct, just look at the contact names and give someone a call.
You may find that you will not only change someone's life in the Balkans, you may also change your own. God Bless, Mike Barrett
Saturday 7th April
Hello from all the team in Kosovo and Happy Easter
Seven Trucks left the warehouse a little late today at 9.45am. The delay was caused by having to load 'Roxy M' (All trucks have their own CB name. I guess the driver of this truck either is old or likes the suits from M & S modelled by Bryan Ferry. Actually he's both) Had he arrived back in time last night he would have been loaded and no time would have been lost.
The trucks had to go the south east of Kosovo, 4 going to Prizren, 1 to Suva Reka, 1 to Malisevo and the last one to Dragashi. Driving time to Dragashi (Dragas, most towns in Kosovo have two names a Serbian and an Albanian name Click here for detailed map), is about 3 hours each way and they have got 4 drops totalling 50 families when they get there. Dragas is sandwiched between the borders of Albania and Macedonia.
We expect to feed and clothe 409 families, a total of 1924 people today. We know it will be more and we have allowed for that.
'Roxy M' had to have a new clutch fitted in Dover, which delayed departure (see the theme!) and now the gearbox seems to be going 'On the Blink' (technical term), but we expect him to make it back OK.
'Frantic', the CB name is a clue to the driver, currently has a battery problem, in so far as if the truck stops running it won't start, and has to be jumped.
Apart from that the rest of the trucks are running fine.
I have spent today (Saturday) working on 'Wish lists' and loads for tomorrow. We intend to deliver aid to Hope and Homes, Balkan Sunflowers, a collective centre in Skanderaj, the Mother Teresa Warehouse, two desperate villages near Ferizaj, Kosovo Torture Victims a Women's Prison. To make the distribution easier for us the hospital at Peja (Pec) sent their ambulance to collect some aid - approximately 35 zimmer frames, 20 pairs crutches, a hospital screen, 6 wheel chairs, adult nappies, nebulisers, toilet seats, X-ray swabs, syringes, leg supports, and much more. The ambulance was bursting at the seams when we had finished. The ambulance is one of two, which covers a 50 km area from Peja. They serve a population of 250,000, Mitrovica in the north, Pristina in the East, Macedonian border to the south and the Montenegro border to the West.
If all goes to plan we will clear the warehouse completely tomorrow and be ready to depart for England on Monday morning, or not! (Mike Barrett)
Friday 6th April (Good Friday)
Good Friday, and what a way to spend it, giving aid to 396 families, 1651 people. Today five trucks went to the east of the country, to towns Viti, Letnica, Verbovce, and Kamenica. Three trucks went to the south, Ferizaj and Shterpce. Today included the additional use of a truck from Mother Teresa NGO. A curtainsider 7.5 tonne with a dramatic list to the drivers side, but it got us there, and back.
Whilst completing our drops to both Serbs, Roma, IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) and Albanians in Shterpce we had a visit from an American Army Major in the American Army UN liaison team, and the local Police. The Police told us of a family in a nearby village who needed everything to make their home habitable. So we soon found ourselves following a Police Car through very narrow lanes, in a village half way up a mountain, trying very hard not to hit the low overhanging roofs, pull down low slung telephone wires, or hit stray dogs, whilst manoeuvring through the winding streets. Not the best place for a Truck. The house was as described, very old and with all the problems of a very old house that has not had any work done..ever. Water outside, electricity which would be condemned in the UK, and the upstairs outside wall made out of chip board and pallets. The Grandparents lived upstairs, as they are now incapable of climbing the stairs, and the roof leaked. Daylight was plainly visible. We still had some food on the truck and we immediately gave them what we had. Her face said it all..... 'Why would a stranger knock on my door, give me food and promise to help fix my house!' she was absolutely stunned. As I said... What better way to spend Good Friday. (Mike Barrett)
Please click here for prior reports