In April 2022, we headed to the Ukraine border to deliver aid to refugees fleeing Putin’s invasion.
Splash founder, Simon Poole, from Exmouth, Project Leader, Darren Clarke, from Plymouth, and friend Mike Evans, from Berkshire, left the UK on Wednesday 9th March and arrived in Isaccea, Romania, a few miles from the Ukraine border, on Saturday 12th March.
All are ex-servicemen who have 50 years’ military experience between them. Splash Projects covered all the fuel and associated travel costs.
Once in Romania, the team was joined by Splash Project Leader Darren Edwards, a former member of the TA, and team member of Kayak4Heroes, who is paralysed from the chest down following a climbing accident, who flew into Bucharest from his home in Shropshire.
We were planning a trip to Romania at some point in the spring in order to carry out a recce for our forthcoming Adventure with Purpose Challenge (coming soon!), but due to the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Ukraine, we changed our plans and brought the trip forward and detoured to the border to deliver aid.
Simon and the two Darrens focused their efforts at a border crossing point half-way between the towns of Galati and Tulcea in Romania, where Ukrainian refugees were being given food, clothes and other essential items, while buses lined up to take them to Germany.
We delivered donations of clothing and medical supplies which we took over in our van and Mike’s trailer, and, once in Romania, we purchased more medical supplies from a £9,000 fun amassed through a Crowdfunding campaign.
Donations of essential items, as well as pictures and letters created by children at Lympstone Primary School, were also given to refugee children.
Then, on Tuesday 15th March, Mike delivered a trailer full of medical supplies to Izmail Military Hospital in Ukraine. Border officials spent around two hours searching his vehicle for weapons before allowing him into Ukraine. Mike then did a second aid drop at another military hospital in Odessa, Ukraine.
“It was very emotional there,” recalled Simon. “Around 300 – 500 people, mainly women with children and older people, arrived at the border where we were, every hour. Many were very tearful.
“The whole place was run by volunteers, there were people from all over the world trying to help. People were given food and other essential items they couldn’t bring with them. They were all being taken by bus to Germany where they were taken to youth hostels and other places.
“We were told the hospitals inside Ukraine most needed insulin, morphine and other pain killers.”
He added: “There was about a 15 – 20km traffic jam of cars leading out of Ukraine to the Romanian border: we were told that was because many of the women don’t have driving licences so just left the cars on the side the road before they get to the border, or it’s because it was taking ages to process their documents at the border.
We worked closely with Cristian Ispas from Romanian disability charity Motivation, who had contacts and logistical intelligence on the ground at the Ukraine-Romanian border. We will be partnering with Motivation for Adventure with Purpose. We will look forward to sharing the details of this amazing adventure race with community project soon!