A British businessman who has set off for Ukraine with urgent medical supplies after a doctor friend said her hospital is desperate for basic equipment plans to house refugees in the house he is renovating.
Richard Dass, 55, has filled every inch of his 25-year-old Mazda Bongo motorhome with donated supplies and is heading across Poland on Thursday after setting off from his home in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, earlier this week.
Mr Dass plans to take supplies to his friend’s hospital, which is about four hours south of Lviv, before returning with as many refugees he can put up in the former school house he is refurbishing in central Slovakia.
He said he spoke to his doctor friend a few weeks ago as tensions in the region were rising.
Speaking to the PA news agency, Mr Dass said: “I said: ‘Anything at all I can do, you must let me know.’
“She said: ‘Don’t worry about us, we’re fine.’”
But Mr Dass said she rang back last week, saying the hospital was taking casualties from all over the country and was rapidly running out of every kind of supplies.
He said: “She said they are currently overwhelmed with injured people.
“She said they were running out of bandages, splints, sutures, She said she needed this equipment and I started making calls.”
Once he has delivered his hospital supplies, Mr Dass is hoping to bring a van full of refugees back to his Slovakian house, which is about 150 miles from the border with Ukraine.
Mr Dass gave up his job in sales and marketing 20 years ago to focus on worldwide travelling adventures which have taken to him to approaching 100 countries.
He now runs his own business organising bespoke tours of the Himalayas and the Andes.
A few years ago his love of winter sports took him to central Slovakia and he bought the derelict school house in a village near the town of Liptovsky Hradok.
Mr Dass said he can accommodate at least 10 in the building and, if he can finish the floor in the old classroom, this total could rise to 20.
He said he will work out then whether some will need help to get to the UK or whether they will stay in his home longer term, hoping for a return to Ukraine.
“People are asking me what my link is with the Ukraine,” he said. “And it’s purely that I’ve got the house near there and I’ve got about 10 friends in the Ukraine.
“And the two youngest men, I haven’t been able to get in touch with.”
He added: “When I see vulnerable people, I always feel that my pot of money can do more for them than it can for me, so it’s better spent on them.
Fellow human beings
“It’s purely about helping fellow human beings.
“On the politics side – I just think we’ve got big-boy politicians and world leaders arguing, playing power games, and we’re just the pawns, we’re just cannon fodder in situations like this.”
Mr Dass said he decided to set off for Ukraine, despite needing to be in the UK for medical appointments.
But the home-and-away Huddersfield Town fan said a bigger sacrifice was missing Friday’s trip to West Brom.
Mr Dass said his Bongo is “packed to the roof with every little space packed with things like nitrile gloves” and he is hoping he will have no problem getting over the border.
But he said he is prepared for a possible two-day wait to get back out again.
Mr Dass said that he has a plan to get his supplies into the country if he does have problems crossing the border.
More details of his plan can be found at www.gofundme.com/f/aid-for-refugees-ukraine-hospital
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