Richard Payne’s Journey with Eden Aid in Delivering Vital Medical Aid to Ukraine

In April 2022 I went to Lviv with a crate of medicines that I had bought and delivered it to a pop-up mother and baby unit at Lviv train station, after a few days helping sort items at a humanitarian aid hub in Lviv I returned home with a greater desire to help (but in the most productive way possible).

On returning to the UK I started collecting unwanted medical items from my community, I had no funding and no support and relied on the power of Facebook to start a campaign. Once I had collected a van load of crutches, wheelchairs and walking aids I had no funds to transport them to Ukraine. By chance Nigel Harling called me and informed me that he was involved with a group called Eden Aid and that they were bringing back refugees from Ukraine in minibuses, he offered to take the mobility equipment free of charge to a humanitarian aid hub in East Poland.

I borrowed a van and took my wheelchairs etc to Oxford and met Troels Henriksen , this was a regular meeting over the Summer and the deliveries to Eden Aid expanded to include hospital stretchers and hospital beds which I had bought at auction. I started a Just giving page and small donations started to come in as a direct result of Eden aid delivering the hospital items. As a result I soon had £2000 and I bought a 4×4 ambulance car from a film company which I filled with rescue and medical equipment, this was delivered to Warsaw for free and then went to Ukraine as a doctors emergency vehicle.

This success brought in some more small donations and more mobility equipment and hospital supplies was delivered free of charge by Eden Aid. On one visit to Troels, I commented on the minibuses he had for moving the refugee, I suggested if he ever wanted to sell me one that I would be interested in converting it to an ambulance. By the Autumn I had £1500 to spend on a 4×4 Volvo estate which again was filled to the brim with medical supplies and sent to frontline teams as an evacuation vehicle.

These successful milestones brought in some more donations and by Christmas I had bought another small 4×4 SUV, filled it to the roof and delivered it to Zaphorizhia in the Donbas where it is used to deliver humanitarian aid to cut off villages near the front line.

Just after this delivery Troels Henriksen called me and asked “was I still interested in The Freshfield School minibus?” …which I was. Within a week I had a long wheel-base, high roof, school minibus with some seats removed. I filled it with stretchers, rescue equipment, hospital supplies & firefighting equipment and it was delivered to the Donbas to be used as an ambulance/humanitarian aid vehicle by Ukrainian volunteer paramedics. The recipient was overwhelmed and it drew quite a lot of local publicity and I received a request for another vehicle if it was possible? Again success breeds success and Troels called me by chance to ask “how many minibuses could you use?” My answer was “How many do you have?” He offered me a second smaller bus donated from a nursery school – “the Bee bus.”

The Bee bus was filled with similar supplies and this time loaded way past the roofline…I drove it to the Donbas and unloaded it there before driving on to Izium on the frontline where it was delivered to a Ukrainian Navy paramedic and her team who converted it to evacuate any wounded back to hospital.

Eden aid has been instrumental in the successful delivery of essential aid for me and as a by product of this has also benefited the volunteer and full time emergency teams in Ukraine. I have no doubt that without the support and generosity of Eden aid that I would not have been able to deliver such large quantities of medical aid. As a by product of last year’s success I was offered an ex. Fire service truck for free and I have just returned from Kharkiv in North East Ukraine where we delivered 10 tonnes of medical aid and hospital supplies and hospital beds. The truck will remain in Ukraine and will be donated to the emergency teams for movement of equipment. A second fire truck has now been donated and will follow the same journey early in Summer 2023. My sincere thanks goes to everyone connected to Eden aid, Ukraine is in a better position to support its people as a direct result of your charity.

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