Easter week 2010, not just any ordinary Easter break for a few people from Northern Ireland as fourteen people embarked on a trip to Kosova eight of them driving two ambulances across Europe and the other six flying out to work on a practical project in a local health centre as well as doing some children’s and women’s meetings.
This story started six months prior to April 2010, when Mary Packer a doctor from the U.K who has been working in Kosova since 2001 asked Gail if it would be possible to deliver two Ambulances for two centres in the south of Kosova following the delivery of three ambulances the previous July. After some discussion we agreed and started getting a team together for the trip and raising the funds to buy the vehicles and to pay for the trip.
The ambulances were desperately needed the first was to go to Hani i Elezit a town on the southern border of Kosova covering a population of around 50,000 with one health centre and no ambulance, the other to Prizren who have a hospital around the size of the Ulster Hospital covering a similar area to that of the Ulster but with only one ambulance.
With the money raised, vehicles packed with medical and equipment and drivers ready for the journey the vehicles set off on 1st April sailing from Belfast to Birkenhead, down through England across Dover to Dunkirk then on through Europe to Croatia and down the coast to Montenegro and into Kosova. They arrived at the Kosova border on the evening of Sunday 4th April with lots of little mishaps on the way. The two major issues being that both spare tyres were the wrong size which caused a bit of concern and one of the vehicles engines caused concern and had to be nursed along by the two professional drivers, brothers Isaac and George Harris. Without their expertise there is no doubt one of the Ambulance wouldn’t have made it.
Thanks to all the drivers who did an amazing job, Violet Mulligan, Chris Eva, William Keers, Mervyn McCallum , Samantha Aston thanks again to them all.
Both Ambulances were successfully delivered and are now working away helping the people of the south of Kosova. The gratitude of the people of Hani i Elezit can’t adequately be expressed in this report, a large crowd were there to see the hand over along with all the local dignitaries and the team were treated to a special lunch to say thank you.
After the delivery of the vehicles the drivers then met up with the practical team who had arrived on the 2nd April to work in the Health centre in the town of Kaqanick. The team were there to renovate the maternity wing of the women’s centre, this involved painting the whole area, converting the conference area into a more user friendly area and one of the most important jobs was to repair and replace the one and only toilet in the centre that didn’t work.
The team also helped with the building of a wall at a local school where the playground is open to a main road and a few metres past that an open railway line. When the kids were playing football and the ball went out onto the road youngsters were running out after the ball without stopping to look at what was coming. The practical team consisted of Rob Irwin our foreman Phillip Dewar, John Galway, Scott Hamilton and Jim Bright.
The work in the maternity wing was completed with only hours to spare before the team were to fly home. The gratitude shown by the doctors and staff made all the hard work worthwhile. The wall which was completed by a local builder who was working on the project with our team from the start, he did an amazing job. It was great to see the photographs of the completed job.
A new kids club and women’s group was started on the Easter trip. Both of these groups were very well received, the first women’
The Kosova Support Group support a safe house in Peja for victims of domestic violence and Linda and Gail spent some time there doing craft with the women and children. The safe house depends on donors for 80% of the finance they require to keep the safe house operating and the KSG provide the money for the rent on their premises.
We also visited SOS Kinderdorf an international organisation caring for orphaned children and families on the brink of breakdown. In conjunction with Kinderdorf KSG support twelve families which have been identified as among the most needy on their programme on a monthly basis with food and medication. As family situations improve and our help is no longer required for a family then another family will join the food programme. In this way the families do not become completely dependent as the most important thing is for them to become independent.
Visits were made to some of the families whose circumstances have improved to see how they were coping without our aid, and to see three new families who have just come on to the programme. Colin thought he had seen the worst the country could throw at him but this time saw the worst situation yet. A family squatting in a home which was filthy, it consisted of just one room for mum and dad and seven kids all under twelve years of age, the smell and feel can’t be portrayed here it was just awful. This family will receive a food delivery once a month for the foreseeable future.
This is just a short insight into what happened on our Easter trip and we would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your prayers, practical support and of course financial help.
This summer sees Gail going out to Kosova with a small team of girls to do Kids clubs and Women’s groups in several centres. Gail leaves on the 1st July the rest of the team join her on the 5th July and Colin will fly out on the 13th July. The team will leave on the 16th and then Gail and Colin will spend time following up on the ongoing work with the safe house, Kinderdorf and in Kaqanik.
Your continued prayers would be much appreciated, for the ongoing work, for the safety of travel for the team, for the women’s work and kids clubs and for the strengthening of relationships and trust with the local people and authorities.
Colin and Gail Dewar