Aid arrives safely despite 'sabotage'
LIFESAVING equipment has arrived in Kosovo thanks to the help of Wadebridge Rotary Club.
Two Bedford 4x4 fire appliances, donated by the Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service following many years of faithful service, arrived in the Kosovar towns of Decan and Dragash after seven days and 1,900 miles of travel through continental Europe.
A minibus and trailer collected in Croatia were also driven to Kosovo carrying medical supplies, wheelchairs and IT equipment.
Before the journey began the Rotary Club took one of the fire vehicles through Wadebridge and Rock, raising £500 towards fuel and expenses to help make the trip possible.
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Firefighting services in Kosovo are very limited and the country has severe problems with forest fires during the hot summer months.
Some fire stations tackle as many as 400 forest fires a year but few have 4x4 vehicles to transport firefighters.
Among its many other activities, Wadebridge Rotary Club supports a Rotary Overseas Project Team which has sent more than 60 convoys of humanitarian aid since 1999 to countries in dire need of such equipment.
The team of Rotarians and two fire service-trained mechanics drove the convoys through France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro before entering Kosovo via the challenging Montenegrin Mountains. Although the crew arrived safely in Kosovo, a few incidents did occur along the way.
Some members were wearing polo shirts embroidered with Kosovar badges when the convoy stopped at a café in Croatia close to the Montenegrin border, and felt a coolness from the other customers.
After continuing their journey a wheel suddenly came off the trailer, with all wheel nuts missing and nowhere to be found. The team had their suspicions but could not pursue the matter.
As always, entry into Montenegro also proved to be tricky, after the computer equipment was considered to have 'environmental issues' by border officials.
The team made several frantic calls to the British Embassy in Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro, the secretary of the Rotary Club of Podgorica, the District Governor for Montenegro, the Montenegrin Embassy in London and Montenegrin Customs.
Eventually, after some help from a Montenegrin Rotarian, the convoy gained entry.
"The trip was a great success and although a few problems did occur along the way the team dealt with them on the spot," Wadebridge Rotary Club member Geoff Nute said. "The crew actually arrived in Kosovo a day ahead of schedule, which was a bonus."