A Lincoln man has returned from a week long expedition to the Ukrainian border, in which he and a friend raised over £10,000 for charity, delivered essential aid, and even helped move refugees to safe spaces.
The trip was organised by Tim Cieslik from Scothern and his friend Ian Forster from Newcastle, and the pair spent a week on the Poland and Ukraine border to offer their services during an intense time of need.
They completed over 4,000 miles between them in their full to the brim Land Rover Defenders, travelling from the UK through a host of European nations before helping out at the Ukrainian border through Operation SafeDrop Poland.
During their week in Poland, Tim and Ian delivered two packed Land Rovers worth of essential aid from friends, family and customers in the UK to the border, with most going to various Ukrainian camps near Lviv and Kyiv.
They also collected emergency medical equipment from North Poland, moved almost two tonnes of rice and pasta over the border, helped move refugees to safe zones and even shipped some refugees across Poland and beyond.
Tim said it was an incredibly long journey that was tough “emotionally and logistically”, but one that felt so rewarding as they helped out during desperate times for the Ukrainian people.
“We agreed that we would each fill our vehicles to the brim with ‘Essential Aid’, most desperately needed at the Humanitarian Centre in Przemysl, our destination in Poland.
“We drove via the nearest ferries to our homes, through Holland, and Germany, then met up in Berlin and drove the rest of the way through Poland in convoy, to our destination.”
He continues: “When we arrived, we had to go through various security checks, as the centre had a high presence of police and military personnel, due to human trafficking being rife.
“Once cleared, we began distributing the aid immediately. Some went into the Przemysl camp (an old Tescos), which homed some 2000+ refugees, mainly the elderly, women and children. Some of the aid was loaded into other vehicles, and went over the border that night to Lviv and beyond.
“We’d agreed that myself and Ian would get to the camp, with the aid donations from our respective homes, at our cost. Beyond that, we would use the funds to get as much done in one week as possible.”
Between them they raised over £10,500 (donate to the JustGiving here) for the Make A Difference Foundation and secured a £10,000 per month donation for three months from a company in Newcastle, allowing the MAD Foundation to remain out on the frontline and help people suffering from the conflict.
Tim also spoke about the frustration at the processes required for Ukraine refugees to become eligible to seek safety in the UK, saying that he ended up driving refugees across Europe to keep them protected.
He added: “We shipped various people and refugees around Poland and beyond. Some have now gone on to Ireland, Germany, Slovakia, France etc.
“The UK is still a huge frustration for all, as there are lots of refugees that want to go, lots of sponsors, but a +90 day wait to obtain visas etc. Just embarrassing. I was signed up to be bringing a family of 4 and a dog to Ireland before the car went!”