Guernsey Press

Islanders experience the reality of life in Ukraine

TWO islanders experienced life on the ground in Ukraine after raising money for generators to power hospitals.

Marc Laine, left, and Martyn Gaudion, right, pictured with their driver and friend Yuriy, in Kyiv, Ukraine on an aid mission. (32406383)

Brothers-in-law Marc Laine and Martyn Gaudion spent several days in Kyiv when they delivered supplies to a hospital for soldiers suffering with mental health issues as a result of the war.

Mr Laine had visited Ukraine last year, delivering supplies, and had set up a Justgiving page to raise money for additional goods, fundraised by local individuals and companies.

With Mr Laine’s contacts in Ukraine and Mr Gaudion’s business contacts from RH Gaudion, the pair managed to supply two full pallets of specific tools costing several thousand pounds to assist with training women in bomb disposal.

Money was also raised to fund a large electricity generator which is currently a source of back-up power for a hospital.

‘The raid sirens go off regularly, but bombs are not always dropped, and those that are dropped don’t always go off and so they need to be defused and our work will help with the training,’ said Mr Laine.

‘The city is going on virtually like normal.

‘There’s a curfew in the night but if the sirens are going, people are still out in restaurants or bars, or working in shops and banks. They just have to try and live their lives in a different way.’

The pair spent three days in Kyiv and were exposed to minimal risk, but still experienced the sirens and having to hide in an underground bomb shelter at their hotel.

‘I went to Kyiv not knowing what to expect and I was a bit apprehensive as you do not know what it will be like when you get there, with the air raids being an everyday threat, but I was amazed by the bravery and resilience of the Ukraine people and it was very humbling trip,’ said Mr Gaudion.

‘One of the nights we did spent a few hours at the underground bomb shelter within the hotel as an attack on the city was imminent and you are advised to go there until the hotel is given the all-clear once the attack is over.’

They said that they met interesting people in the bomb shelter, who made the experience more pleasant and were interesting to talk to.

They paid for the trip themselves and the funds donated went only on providing aid.

‘It felt important that we meet the people who would benefit from our aid, and see exactly where it was going,’ said Mr Laine.

They hired a driver called Yuriy, who became a close friend and showed them the city 'as it was', he said, without pulling the wool over their eyes.

Mr Laine said he hoped to make another trip in future, but nothing is planned just yet.