Caitriona Twomey of Cork Penny Dinners and a group of volunteers are travelling to Ukraine next week as part of a humanitarian convoy bringing essential supplies to the eastern European country.
The group, which also includes several members of Cork City Missing Persons Search and Recovery, is planning to ferry to Dunkirk in northern France next Wednesday and from there, drive up through Belgium and across Germany before heading to the town of Tuchów in southeastern Poland.
Once they are fully prepped, the group will then undertake a 200km journey across the border and into Ukraine.
The group says they made the decision to go to the conflict-stricken country after getting in contact with members of the Redemptorist Church in Ukraine, which has identified a number of locations in the country in desperate need of supplies.
Those travelling are now seeking donations of medical supplies like bandages, plasters, alcohol wipes, antiseptic creams, paracetamol, and iodine, baby products like formula, nappies, Sudocrem, vaseline, thermometers, bottles and soothers, as well as ladies' sanitary products and other items such as flashlights, matches, batteries and power banks.
“We have three big vans, and we’re going to fill them up with all of the essentials,” Ms Twomey said. Ms Twomey said her group of 12 will be made up of three teams of four, one for each van. Each team will share in the driving, dividing up their long journey as best they can.
“We have the route planned out,” she said.
Once Ms Twomey and the rest of the group enter Ukraine, she says the plan is to link up with the Redemptorists, who are currently doing vital work on the ground in Ukraine. Together, they plan to travel via an unofficial 'green corridor' and visit each of the 15 locations identified by the church, one of which is an orphanage.
Ms Twomey says her group will have ample supplies for every stop they make. “We’ve got a load of big boxes that were donated to us and we are going to itemise everything before we go out so that each van has the same stuff, and so we know how to find everything inside."
After they have unloaded their vans, the volunteers plan to drive back into Poland and re-stock, before turning around and heading back into Ukraine once more.
Once these two supply runs are complete, Ms Twomey says she and her 11 colleagues will drive back to Ireland and fill up the vans with supplies in readiness for another humanitarian journey to Ukraine.
She says they plan to map out and detail the routes they take so that they can pass this information on to other volunteers. “We'll identify the routes and the places as we go. If we need to go back ourselves, we will.”
Anyone wishing to assist in the groups’ efforts can drop donations into Cork Penny Dinners on Little Hanover Street or into the visitor centre at the North Cathedral in Shandon from 10am to 6pm on Friday through to Tuesday.