From Tina 13:00 As the convoyers make the long journey home, thoughts turn to all those they have left behind. Two Taffs were particularly grateful to have visited the family of their dear friend Agim (RIP). Being exactly seven months since his sad passing, the visit was poignant and painful but the family were truly grateful not to have been overlooked. They wanted to express their thanks to everybody who made a financial contribution towards Agim's treatment. we were told that, although the treatment had not saved Agim's life, the fact that we had met the cost had meant that they did not need to sell their home. One of the very sad facts of life in Kosovo.
From Nibsy 15:43 This was another successful convoy despite all the problems. Together with Late Entry, Peejay & Flibble we left Sunday lunchtime and took the mountain route through Montenegro without any problems. We overnighted near the Croatian border and watched the weather forecast with dismay. The following morning we arrived at the Croatian border just behind a coach where one passenger was found travelling with a forged British Passport. I was at the police window as they detected the forgery and watched with interest the procedure to check the passport and the subsequent arrest. This delayed us for about an hour and a half as they then proceeded to check everyone on the coach.
Then we drove across Croatia at times in heavy snow. Overnight there was significant snowfall but the roads were clear. There was a long delay waiting to exit Croatia into Slovenia. We were placed in a stack on the motorway for about 2 1/2 hours and were delayed a further 2 hours in a traffic jam in Maribor.
We also drove in very heavy snow through Austria. Flibble had a "scary moment" when a 4 wheel drive spun out of control right in front of him.
We overnighted on the Austria German border then the long drive straight through to Vlissingen where Nibsy & Peejay boarded the 0200 ferry leaving Late Entry & Flibble to catch the 1000 ferry - each to Dagenham.
Once again Cobelfret Ferries and Ford Motor Company did us proud.
Nibsy's class in a box project went very well and we delivered school equipment to 8 schools. All were in a desperate state and were very grateful for the deliveries we made. I spent some time talking to a teenage girl at one of the schools. She showed me her family photograph album being assisted with her English by a 15 year old boy. After seeing the girls photographs he started to tell me about his family. He spoke of his mother and two younger brothers and tactlessly I asked about his father. He said "he was murdered when I was 8". At a loss for words I commented how sad that must have been. "Yes" he said "I was there when they murdered him".
Wednesday 26th March From Steve 11:00 After a long drive through Serbia the trucks crossed the border into Hungary at 01:45 this morning. A celebratory cocktail party was held in the back of one of the trucks with the dress code of smart casual being advised. The drive to this point had been through snow and flooding with even a small twister being encountered at one stage.
The crew had a bit of a lay-in this morning so as not to contravene driving regulations and set off at 11:00 local time (10:00 UK time). They have heard from the heavies who were past Nuremberg and heading towards Frankfurt with plans to catch ferries to the UK on Friday.
Steve said the crews wanted to take this opportunity to thank all the local people in Kosovo who had helped make the distribution successful. These are the Mother Theresa Society, Lumi and Gazim who took unpaid leave to help, the Peja Rotary Club who organised the warehouse and hotel and not forgetting our old friends Driton and Arsim.
Tuesday 25th March Update from Steve Back on line with the BlackBerry now that we have left Kosovo. Trucks are all rolling back to the uk. Everyone is well and good. Too early in the journey to predict an accurate day or time of arrival in the UK. Slept overnight at a small hotel that looked very similar to the Bates Motel! Coxy (who else) dropped his taco key into his steering mechanism. After several attempts it was finally retrieved. Planning a long day today to begin to eat into the miles.
Tuesday.... by Maggie, who has stayed on in Kosovo. Last June I met a young guy, Lumi, who was doing voluntary translating for a local charity. He wanted to be involved with Hope and Aid and gave his time to us ...this convoy and last. I am now writing this at his house, being treated like royalty by his parents and sister. As poor as they are, money cannot buy the happiness exuding from this close family unit living in one room.
My morning was spent fact finding on the nutrition project, shopping for the family and visiting the Railway people. The chicken project is on going although the cold has killed a few, a dog apparently made his way to a michelin star dinner and who knows... a few may have made their own way into the ovens in the tin homes! Shishera, wanted another 20 chickens from me!
This afternoon was the most fruitful I have spent in a long while. After the October convoy there was aid unaccounted for which Lumi took to his Uncle's yard in Lipjan. He spend a week delivering this in a van to the most desperate of the social cases in Lipjan and Ferizaj. We visited 8 families that had received aid including an old man living in a tent on the mountain side but perhaps the most heartbreaking was the family of 9 living in a derelict school. They remembered Lumi and thanked us. They offered us some of the family meal: the hospitality was overwhelming! During coffee (we declined the meal of course!) we found out more about them. One interesting fact was that some charities have promised aid, never to be seen again! Every time strangers approach they fear that they will be evicted. With much persuasion MTS agreed to take a little from each of the 35 family packs to make 36, which we will pick up tomorrow. Lumi will deliver them tomorrow and hopefully there will be blankets.
Tonight I am taking my hosts out for a drink in town. This will be the first time the mum has been out in three years! I'm privileged to be here and have mixed feeling about returning home!