Twenty-three charitable volunteers have started a 1,000 mile trip in Ford vans in order to help refurbish a dilapidated village school in Belarus. They set off in six Ford Transits belonging to Mears, the support services company, a Ford Ranger, as well as a Transit Tourneo minibus loaned by Ford of Britain.
It is estimated that 90% of the 250 pupils at the school in Svaryn, Dragichin province, have illnesses related to the fallout from the 1986 nuclear disaster in neighbouring Ukraine, yet the school has up to now had no medical treatment room.
That will be put right by the Mears team during their 10-day work camp at Svaryn. Twenty-three of the company's staff - cleaners, plumbers, electricians, IT technicians and managers - have volunteered to help.
Project leader Ian Blackman said: "At the moment pupils from Svaryn have to make a journey of many hundreds of miles every time they need treatment. The new medical room will make a big difference. It's an excellent cause, and the people of Belarus badly need our help because they are constantly exposed to low-dose radiation, a problem which affects children particularly, and it's not a situation which is going to improve for hundreds of years.
"The school is in a very poor condition and requires a lot of repair, and of course our technicians have all the skills necessary to help in that direction. Another project we will complete while we are there is to completely refurbish four sets of toilet facilities."
Ford Fleet business manager Steve Davis, who helped organise the minibus loan for Mears, added: "This is an inspiring project that we are pleased to support with the loan of a minibus. Mears staff must be applauded for their selflessness in giving up their time to the project, and their employers deserve praise also for assisting their humanitarian effort."
Author: Alison Bell, June 14, 2010