Sisua Rajalle! - Osa 7 - 2000 km myöhemmin

Sisua Rajalle! - Part 7 - 2000 km later

After a modest breakfast at our long-haul trucker hotel, it was time to start doing what we had come for—the very purpose and highlight of our long journey, namely to ensure the equipment found its new owners. Our Ukrainian fixers, who had helped with all the paperwork and had figured out who or which groups needed which materials, joined our group, and then we set off.

The Fire Brigade

Our first stop was an airfield in Kyiv whose fire station needed the fire truck we had acquired. When we drove in with the convoy, about ten firefighters in their gear were already waiting for us, along with a bunch of other workers. They had forklifts and other equipment to unload the container from the trailer. I must admit I was a bit nervous about handing over the fire truck. What if they had imagined something much better than an old Scania from 1990? To my relief, they seemed very pleased, and when we showed the brand-new equipment we had picked up in Riga, they seemed both surprised and a bit impressed. Their gratitude was greatly affirmed when Anders asked one of the firefighters how many fire trucks they had. He looked a bit surprised and pointed to the small Renault car they had come with. "Just that one," he said. "But now we have another, much better!" That moment made the whole trip worth the effort!

The Ukrainian organizations don't have much they can offer as thanks for the equipment they receive, but they ensure that everyone involved gets signed certificates and as many photos and videos as they want. Here too, we each received a nice personal, framed certificate to take home. We had a small ceremony where each of us in turn shook hands with their commander and received the certificate.

In addition to the vehicle, we also handed over fire hoses and water sprayers, a hydraulic cutter, a generator, helmets, gloves and hoods, a chainsaw, a couple of floodlights, and a couple of thousand liters of fire extinguishing foam and some other chemicals. As a little bonus, we also threw in two cartons of about 400 Kismet chocolate bars that Fazer had donated. Especially the fire foam is a scarce resource that is needed in large quantities for the rescue work after the Russian attacks, and both the fire chief and some of his men were visibly moved by the amount of foam we had with us. When we also mentioned that we had the opportunity to come with a full load of just the sought-after substance, they seemed not to believe their ears.

The fact is that the fire brigade had made a request for help from Zeroline almost a year ago, but only now had we managed to gather what they needed. According to the chief, the help we came with was more than what they have received from their own leadership, which has a chronic shortage of funds. Hearing such things from those who are themselves fighting in Ukraine really shows how significant our (as it feels) small contributions can actually be. The contributions are only small if you compare them with the billion-dollar investments that individual countries can come up with, but for specific units, they are very important.

Unloading the foam from the container took a while since a lot of other stuff first had to be moved out of the way, but by lunchtime, we were on our way to the next recipient.

Border Guards

The next stop was Kyiv's Border Guards Battalion. Ukraine's border guards are their own part of the defense forces and fight at the front just like the army. For them, we had brought several cars and a large amount of car tires, which are in high demand under enemy fire. Here the soldiers themselves handled the unloading quickly and efficiently directly from our container to one of their own vehicles. We were not allowed into the actual brigade area, but we got some good pictures outside together with soldiers in full gear who came to us for that purpose. Here too, a small thanksgiving ceremony was held, and we had a discussion with the brigade commander. We asked what type of equipment they need more of, and got a lot of good tips on what we could try to gather for the next delivery.

While we were at the brigade, the air raid siren went off. It was my first time experiencing it, and admittedly, I started to glance at the sky and wonder where I would seek shelter if I saw a Kinzhal coming down at full speed, but the alarm soon ended without any drama. It is worth mentioning that Ukraine, as a precaution, issues warnings when Russian bombers take off or when a launch is detected. The areas where missiles could potentially reach then receive an alert, which means that the likelihood of something actually falling down is quite small, and moreover, Kyiv has the country's best air defense. But one never knows.

Naval Museum

Our last stop was for a meeting with the head of the Naval Museum. The museum is not just a museum, but also, among other things, responsible for the demining of Ukraine's waters. We are trying to gather boats suitable for the purpose, but this time we handed over a pick-up. Also, some other people from various branches of the defense forces were present and picked up vehicles for their own or their units' use. Here too, we had a very interesting chat which I may return to later.

After the deliveries were completed, we were given a guided tour of a factory that manufactures and repairs all kinds of electronic and mechanical equipment for Ukraine's defense. It was extremely interesting, and we even got some pictures with a Soviet tank that was in for repairs.

The few remaining vehicles in our convoy were then taken to our Ukrainian fixers' office, from where they will eventually make their way to the front (or wherever they are headed). At this stage, it was already late, and we had only had a light lunch, so it was high time for dinner. And a hearty dinner we did have, with lots of local delicacies, beer, and vodka. Several thank-you speeches were made and gifts exchanged. We introduced the Ukrainians (and possibly others) to Finland-Swedish schnapps singing culture, and it was all very emotional and entertaining.

Finally, we took a taxi to the hotel, arriving around 11 PM. Since there is a curfew from midnight, it was a quick check-in, and then we went on a short trip to a local pub. However, the police soon came and chased us back to the hotel, so the evening was quite short here as well.

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