A Perth man working in Romania is appealing for people back home to help fund a project providing aid for refugees of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Greg Smith got involved in the rescue mission while working as a project engineer in naval construction projects in a Romanian city next to the Ukraine border.
The city of Galati which borders southern Ukraine – where he lives with his partner Giorgiana Jercan – is awash with women and children on the move from the Russian onslaught.
“We are living five minutes by car from the refugee centers and are standing by to help with all the funds raised for your efforts directly to assist the people with exactly what they need,” came a message home to his parents in Perth.
“In the last days there have been over 1000 people displaced here.
“The response in Galati has been incredible, with normal people giving their time and money to support those in need during this time.
“There are many people already helping, but now there is a need for blankets, bedsheets and hot food.
“Many of the refugees are only transiting overnight but have been traveling in the terrible recent weather, including snow and rain and some of which for up to three days, with no availability of the basics for the past days.
“We want to raise money to help them, to contract a local catering company to provide them at least a couple of hot meals, and have some small basic comforts to allow them to get a decent rest.
“We are looking to raise £1000 to provide around 200 hot meals for the families stuck here.”
Greg and Giorgiana are going to local shops and families buying what they need, be it food, bedding or electric heaters.
They have been involved in volunteer activities in an attempt to bring relief and support to those who have been fleeing the war.
Until now they have relied on the donations of family and friends. The monies raised have been used to provide food, accommodation, and support to those transiting onwards.
Greg told the PA: “I want to make an appeal to the people of Perthshire to donate to the fund we have set up to directly help the refugees at the border.
“We are in a position to talk with the public volunteers and provide assistance immediately to help in a rapidly changing situation.”
Perth-born Greg (34) was brought up in the town’s Crieff Road.
He played football for Gannochy as a kid, played cricket in the Perthshire area from the age of nine, and then later Perth Doo’cot Cricket Club. He went to Caledonian Road Primary School and later Perth High School.
Greg served an apprenticeship with LW Haddow as a plumber, later working with McDonald and Buist.
Then in 2010 he left Perth to join the Merchant Navy as a trainee marine engineer, studying at South Shields Maritime College.
He traveled the world with this career working on container ships and cruise ships, eventually graduating this year to Chief Engineer.
Since his first appeal for funds on February 28, Greg reports some great responses: “Amazing! We got 3560 Euros raised in less than 24 hours.
“Then it went up to close on 6000 Euros.
“The kindness shown by the local Romanian people in the contributions they are making and by the volunteers who give their time to stand peeling vegetables and preparing food, delivering meals, assisting in the accommodation centers and shuttling people from the border to accommodation is truly inspiring .
“We have a short list of essential items from the centers to make the conditions more comfortable, which your donations go towards.
“We bought 15 small electric heaters this morning for the rooms as they have no heating and the heaters they do have are only provided to families with small children at the moment due to short supply. Tomorrow Giorgiana will go to buy some other items such as small plastic baths for babies, paper plates and cutlery and other supplies requested by volunteers. She will also assist tomorrow with the delivery of the food to make sure we are giving the people what they need.”
Greg’s dad Graham in Perth has been keeping in close contact.
He said of the situation his son now faces: “As you can imagine it will be difficult to sustain this level of support drawing on such a small base of donors. Some of your readers would perhaps like to contribute to this cause?”
Greg’s blog, where donations can be made, has regular updates and can be found at the following website: https://galatirefugeeaid.com
A website – https://galatirefugeeaid.com/ is able to accept donations
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.