Month 1, February – March 2022
MAD-Aid and the Isle of Wight community supporting Ukraine.
By Victoria Dunford.
I woke up, like everyone in Moldova on 24 February 2022, to the echo of huge explosions.
I decided on the same day to come back to the UK; I considered that I would be more useful from here, although I left a bundle of problems in Moldova – high gas bills, unfinished negotiations with CNAM about our contract for Phoenix therapy sessions, and a huge number of decisions up in the air. Our office manager, Lucian, presented me with a set of urgent orders that he had hastily typed up, I signed them hurriedly, and I left!
By the time I got off the plane in the UK, we already knew that we would offer 30 places to stay in our Phoenix Complex, and in my head, I had calculated the increased upkeep costs, who could help us with the funds, and how much it costs to feed a person for a day. Even before we got home, we already had donations promised. The encouraging message was, “We trust you. We know all too well what you’ve accomplished during the pandemic.”
I started counting: 25 arrivals. Then 44! Phoenix was inundated in the smiles of innocent children who had no idea that they have become the children of war. People were pouring in. My co-workers had begun to forget about Saturday and Sunday or 9-5.
There were calls, messages with everything – far too many to handle! I’m not keeping up with them today either! At home on my island, I was greeted by a surprise – the whole community had mobilized to help the Ukrainian population, and extremely quickly they realized that they needed MAD-Aid to handle the logistics. We have united our efforts and for a month we have accomplished so much.
Here are a few snapshots of our days:
11 March 2022– at one In the morning, the driver of truck 3 called from Dover: the export of humanitarian aid has been simplified and there was no two export documentation, just one. He was worried that it was missing! At 6.30 (8.30 in Moldova) the driver of the second truck called me. He has already arrived at the border terminal in Balti, in Moldova! At 9, I hear from the drivers of the two vehicles sitting at the customs at Otaci, on the Moldova-Ukraine border to send the documents for the transfer of the aid to Vinnytsia. At 10, truck number 4 arrives on the Island to load. This is the joy of logistics.
Day to day – a round of logistics, calls, funds that are needed quickly and strategically. The money must be used so carefully – donations will decrease, but the need is still growing rapidly, and it will be needed longer term.
Meetings, zoom after zoom, 12 groups, all important, between 30-60 calls a day. I have added Telegram and Signal on my phone on top of the traditional phone service, Messenger, WhatsApp and Viber. I am afraid, inevitably, that I miss emails, messages, and important updates. One day I will catch up. For now, I can only sort them. 🙈
9 trucks have been loaded – aid worth more than £400,000 – a huge responsibility. Three loads have already been distributed throughout Moldova, to Stefan Voda, in the south, to Briceni, in the north, and in between, to Otaci and Ukraine. The rest is yet to be distributed or still on the way.
Yes, it was a month full of everything – tiredness, powerlessness, satisfaction when we managed to get aid to Ukraine legally and correctly.
There was inspiration, encouragement, and support – support from people from whom you least expect it. There was harsh criticism from others, judgement without logic. There was satisfaction that you have transferred aid professionally for 10 years and now you are starting to use that expertise for different outcomes. I salute and thank those who support MAD Aid and put your confidence in us.
It was a month that marked us all, a month that could be the beginning of an end but could also be a beginning with an extremely distant end! We can’t anticipate, but we can get involved today and now! Tomorrow we could be in need.
Thank you for reading this far. I know you now understand and won’t be upset that I really can’t always answer your call…