People Of Action - Aid for Ukrainians

The Rotary Clubs of Billericay, and Billericay Mayflower, got together to help deliver aid to Ukrainains in Moldova.

Moldovan Manoeurvres

Rotary Club of Billericay Mayflower’s Barry Howe has made a number of visits to Moldova, a small country bordering Ukraine, to deliver aid in this country and to fund and help build washroom and toilet facilities in schools where no such facilities existed. 

The Rotary Club of Billericay has helped support these projects and reported on them in previous Newsletters.  We were particularly moved by the reports made by Barry on his return from his last trip to Moldova where he saw at first hand two locations where Ukrainian refugees are housed, and how desperate is the deprivation in which they find themselves.

Why Moldova?

Its a little know fact that Moldova has received 718,657 Ukrainian refugees and 84,077 third country nationals since late February 2022.  Of these, 107,480 have chosen to stay in the country as of 16 April 2023, and of these, 47,298 are under the age of 18 years old. (UNHCR)

It is hosting the highest number of Ukrainian refugees per head compared to other EU and EU-neighbouring countries including Poland!  (UNDP December 2022)

Disaster Fund Application

Barry Howe and Peter Greene of the two Rotary Clubs of Billericay, and Billericay Mayflower, got together earlier this year to see what could be done to help, and applied to the Rotary Foundation Disaster Response Fund for a grant which, together with donations by their two clubs, would fund a lorry of aid to Ukrainians in Moldova.
The issue was identified by the local community to Rotarian Barry Howe when he was last there in August 2022, and details were itemised in a WhatsApp post on April 28, 2023, in which this community appealed for food, toiletries, clothes and school supplies. (There are widespread shortages of basic foods and supplies.)
The Grant request was made on June 12, and after review by the District Grant’s Committee was approved at end July.

Act Fast!

Time was of the essence as the next scheduled Aid Convoy to Moldova was scheduled for just ten days later so timing was very tight, but both clubs “broke records” transferring the money to source all the goods and to pay for them within a day of receiving the grant, on August 4.

Barry pulled out all the stops, and collected the aid which was so desperately needed, and had it loaded onto the trucks and vans heading to Moldova.  The bulk of the aid comprised food, clothing, children’s pens, pencils, books, bicycles and toiletries.


The Aid convoy vehicles, one 18-ton lorry and one 40 foot Artic, plus two tall long wheel base vans, assembled at Albea in Colchester (cosmetic tube manufacturer who allow the lorries to be securely parked there). All the aid was loaded onto the vehicles there, and the vehicles set off on schedule on August 10 for their overland journey to Moldova, where they arrived on August 13. 

Don’t be S(c)eptic

Barry and wife Janet, (Janet is a member of the third Rotary Club in Billericay – the Rotary Club of Billericay Town) left at the same time in a separate motorhome and arrived to find the Aid convoy already arrived and at the same time as the delivery of a septic tank, which they helped to install. 

They were on-site to ensure that the aid was safely distributed to the Ukrainian refugees who needed it most, in the camps which Barry had visited on his previous trip last year.

The convoy had two purposes – to carry aid to the Ukrainians in two camps in Balti, Moldova, and to carry all the supplies needed to equip a toilet and washroom in two schools – in the villages of Sloveanca and Mindrestii Noi near where the camps are located.  The whole stay in Moldova was to be 10 days with 5 days in each of the two villages. 

Blocks of Ukrainians

All the aid destined for the Ukrainians was distributed while the build of the washrooms/toilets in those two villages proceeded in the background.  The total team was 16 people including 4 from Sweden, and 3 native Moldovans (excluding the two interpreters).  All are volunteers giving their time for nothing.

The Ukrainian camps were in Balti, in two blocks of apartments which had been decrepit hotels.  There were 80 refugees in each of the two blocks – 160 in total.

One block had some shared facilities, but the other had no refrigerator, washing machine, or even a kettle to boil water for 80 people!  Dreadful!


So what happened to the food, water, clothing, children’s pens, pencils, books, and toiletries?  
Water – Barry and Jan distributed water in both blocks, direct to the Ukrainians.
Colouring books, pencils, crayons etc  - Jan took them to a nursery/summer camp for the Ukrainian children from the blocks, located above the warehouse where surplus foods and materials were stored.  
Food Supplies – tinned meat/fish and pasta.  The volunteers made up family boxes, empty banana boxes filled with water, food, etc and some was distributed directly in the blocks, but most was put into the shop, manned by Moldovan volunteers and Ukrainians from the blocks).  The food was given away free, but with close control on access so that only the Ukrainians received their produce and then had to wait 7 days before they could return and get more.  Moldovans and Ukrainians helped out by (very cheerfully) helping to carry the goods from the truck to the shop.
Other Help
Along with the Aid for the Ukrainians which was the subject of the Disaster Fund grant, there was additional produce and items for the two Moldovan villages which were the focus of the toilet and washroom work, and the volunteers helped distribute these too.
Family Boxes – these were also distributed direct to elderly Moldovan families at their homes in the villages, with local social workers identifying those with the greatest need.
Clothes – these were taken to a special shop in the villages and could be collected – for free.   (People were let in ten at a time and given three minutes to collect what they needed, then ushered out and the next ten let in)

So Worthwhile

Barry summed it all up.  “The whole trip was tiring and emotional but very worthwhile. To interact with the Ukrainian families is a huge privilege and allows you to understand their basic needs. I’m always left in tears at some point.”

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