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Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
9/9/22 11:30 a.m.

Thanks guys, I've got one more of the drop off and then a couple we can call the "Prologue" (I'll probably post them next week).  But yeah, I seriously thought about breaking the "no military photo" rule and just not posting on social media but couldn't even bring myself to do that much.  I figure the Ukrainians have enough going on.  They don't need an American taking pictures that might give away their positions too...

 

There is some seriously cool stuff though.  Cool people too.

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
9/9/22 11:32 a.m.

In reply to VikkiDp :

I love your update, thank you for adding your part of this adventure.  I'm about to post the next update (about our drop-offs).  Please add anything you think I missed, or what you were thinking as you we were driving through Dnipro with unfixable windows in the rain laugh

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
9/9/22 11:35 a.m.
tuna55 said:

Thanks for the update, Vikki!

 

I chatted with my kids last night about the latest adventure to Dnipro. I was thinking about you two meeting, and all of the waving and chattering with different people from different countries who would have otherwise never come into contact.

 

One side of the war has people pulling together resources, volunteer, military and state driven, bringing defense weapons, humanitarian aid, refugee assistance, people putting themselves into harms way to defend human life. I thank you both (and all who have aided you here and everywhere else) for shining bright in the face of terrible darkness.

One thing I meant to ask Vikki, but forgot to:  How DID you find our little forum?

Of all the places on the internet that are out there helping Ukraine.  All the big charities, all the celebrities, all the people...  How did you find us?

I'm glad you did though.  None of this would be possible without your help.  Thank you

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
9/9/22 12:01 p.m.

 

With our goods safely in Dnipro, and with the truck parked at the UA Posta, Vikki and I have a chance to properly greet each other.  I give her the latest issue of Grassroots Motorsports and two GRM stickers, and she gives me a bog of gifts for me, Mrs. Hungary, and the kids (I don’t want to open it and ruin the surprise, but I can see there is chocolate inside)  After that, she goes over the plan:

We have two families that will receive their baby and school supplies through the postal system, and we won’t be out any money as her company has a program established that makes it free of charge.

SWEET!

Unfortunately, the two families in question have their goods stashed at the absolute front of the truck and there’s no way to get it out but to unload everything.  Ah well, we kind of knew that was coming.

While unloading Vikki and I have a chance to chat.  She tells me about the families (these each have a 2-year old child) and she talks a bit about the attacks in the morning (4 of them!).  While I don’t speak Ukrainian, I can tell by the say she keeps repeating one word that she’s rather taken back by the amount of stuff we’ve packed.  My favorite quote was when she blurted out “BUT THIS IS JUST ONE TRUCK!!!”

Good stuff.

With everything out, we organize the items for the first shipment.  We bought baby and toddler food that was specific to the children’s ages, we have school supplies that have been packed in a similar fashion, and of course we have the box of soccer balls. 

A convoy drives by.  Wave.

Each family’s school supply bag has their names on it and a number we wrote that coincides with the list that Vikki sent us earlier.  It turns out to be the perfect way to do things.  Vikki simply has to say “family #6” and I can pull the bag out with everything in it but the baby food/diapers.

Done!

You would think that after unloading items from the back, there would be MORE room but you would have thought wrong.  Next up is Novopost, and we drive there with the tailgate down and with boxes ratchet strapped in place. 

 

Mrs. Hungary and I have used this company before (Novopost) and it’s wonderful.  It’s basically a privately run postal business.  When we shipped medical supplies to Kyiv and firefighting PPE to Dnipro last time, Novopost got it there in less than 24-hours.  We would expect nothing less since we’re shipping stuff to refugees inside the city of Dnirpo.

Again, I use the truck to jump the curb and park in the dirt.  Out everything comes again!

“But you just packed!” Vikki exclaims.

“Meh, I have kids” I joke.

At this point I’m really wishing I had kept some water for myself after that stop at the detour.  Or maybe I should have bought one when I stopped to use the Wifi at the WOG fuel station.  Either way, it is WARM and I am getting THIRSTY!  I know Vikki must be needing a drink too.

Since we’ve already done the unpacking ritual once, and since we have that bag numbering system, Vikki is on the packages as fast as I can get them out.  I asked about the shipping here as well.  It wont be free.  No problem, I still have that fat wad of cash from the border crossing!  I pull out a couple thousand Hryvnia and hand it to her.  Once her arms are full, she takes it all in to the Novopost, and I get a chance to get caught up.

Some months back, we had bought chocolate to share with the Kisgorbo guests.  We bought several boxes of Milka chocolate and handed it out during our visit to the shelter.  We had two full boxes left over and I’m using the time with Vikki’s absence to toss a chocolate for each kid (over the age of 2) into each bag.  They did get a bit soft, but I think they’ll make it.

And this is how it goes for this stop.  I’m dumping the contents of the truck onto the ground, set things up in some orderly fashion, and Vikki comes with her list and grabs what she needs, then takes it inside to ship it to where it needs to go.

No way could we have done all these stops on one trip to Dnipro.  This is amazingly efficient, and I’m impressed with Vikki’s ingenuity here.

I do get caught up and am rewarded with a lovely symphony of church bells from the church across the street.  I took a moment to make a small recording (but cut it short when Vikki came back out for another load).

 

Also, when Vikki wasn’t looking I put a deflated soccer ball into the school bags of three families that had multiple children.  It was originally two families as I couldn’t find the “needle” needed for the air pump I was including to inflate the third ball.  I found it on the ground by my tailgate (score!) so in the bags those went as well.

 

 

 

If Vikki noticed, she didn’t let on.

In between another trip, I dumped the contents of my fuel can into my tank.  I was running a bit low on petrol but didn’t want to have to stop before our delivery at the children’s hospital.

In between another, I checked the fuses behind the driver’s kick panel to try to figure out why the radio wasn’t working.  All of them were good.

I checked the wire bundle behind the radio as well.  No popped fuses there either...

I did a quick fod search in the passenger’s floor area for that nub I lost from the cigarette lighter the first day, and couldn’t find that either.

0-for-3 I guess.

After that, the truck was unloaded enough I could begin re-loading the medical stuff and join Vikki inside the Novopost (oh my god, the AC in this place….  It was like heaven!)

 

 

Maaaaaaaaan, Vikki has done this before for sure.  She was a professional at the counter with the many stacks of items all going to different families.  It was like she had the whole counter to herself and she made good use of it.  Everything we had had a destination and Vikki knew exactly where that was.

There was one issue with one of the last addresses, but after a couple of calls she got that worked out too.

Once done, we both needed a drink.  We bought a whole shopping BAG full of water from a neighboring market and sipped on some hot beverages (Orange tea and coffee and my orange tea was DELICIOUS!).  And Vikki teaches me how to say “Thank you” in Ukrainian (Dyakuyu).  I’ve been using Russian words this whole time and I do feel a bit embarrassed as I could have easily learned a FEW Ukrainian words by now, but there always seems to be something keeping me busy…

We finish our drinks back at the truck (I finished a giant bottle of water)  and instead of backing back out the way we came, I put the truck in first and drive straight through the dirt track in front of us and back onto the road (obligatory quote:  “Road, where we’re goin we don’t need ‘road’”. 

 

 

 

I swear this Toyota is the perfect tool for this job.  Hauls tons, drives over anything.

Driving to the children’s hospital it finally starts to rain.  Yikes.

It’s not much but enough to be annoying.  The windows are still down, and there’s a layer of dust on the windscreen from that detour, and I just know that it’ll all turn to mud if I try to use my wipers (I don’t dare spray windscreen washer fluid out with the windows down either). 

Which brings me to my next observation about Vikki.  Man, she is “Grassroots” to the bone.  Windows don’t roll down, bouncy truck suspension, rain coming in, mud on the windscreen, Bob (the GPS) is arguing with her GPS the whole time, I’m sure I smell terrible after all this, and she never says a THING!  She is either the most polite and understanding person in the entire world, or she’s done this before.  I’m trying very hard at this point not to say something about it, but I think it’s no coincidence she found our little forum and I bet she’d make for a great team member in an endurance race.

Ok back on track:

We’re driving along the river and she’s pointing out all the sights (she’s a great tour guide, by the way).  If you remember the bridge that was hit while people drove across it (no one died) back in May, we drove right under it (it didn’t have a single scratch on it!  Vikki tells me it was inspected and back in use the next day!!!).

 

https://twitter.com/nexta_tv/status/1522103027204820993?lang=en

 

We drove by the Parus Hotel, and that was SUPER cool to see.  I couldn’t help myself on this one.  I picked up my phone while I was driving and snapped a photo of it.

 

 

Eventually we arrive at the hospital.  Vikki tells me that this is the Regional Children’s Hospital, and it… is… HUGE.

We meet “Max”, the 2nd head doctor and shook hands.  He’s dressed very well, and I am absolutely filthy from the road-trip.  We get some extra hands to help, and set right to work after a quick greeting.  Everything is coming out the back of the truck, and headed right into the building.  We talk while we’re working.  About the inventory, about which box is the EKG machine (special care must be taken) and every box gets a little attention.  The stuffy box comes out last, and THAT one got ALL of their attention.  We told them there was a stuffie in there for every kid in the building, and they could let each kid pick their own.  You could tell they really liked that one.

 

After we were done, I was expecting a handshake and a “goodby” but it turns out Max wanted to take us in for a photo.

Inside is when I noticed the sandbags in the windows.

I still can not fathom the world we live in where a children’s hospital has to fortify their building with sandbags to keep glass from flying in, in the event of an explosion. 

Max goes off and comes back with the head nurse.  She’s incredibly emotional when she sees our boxes and I thought she was going to cry.  We all hug, we’re making gestures, Vikki is able to translate, photos were taken, and they ask if there’s anything we need.

Absolutely not.  Everything we send comes without any strings attached.

 


 

We all shake hands, and are walked back out to the truck by Dr. Max.  He says that he’ll get some pictures to us, and he does.

Back in the truck, it’s time to head back the way we came.  It’s getting to be evening now, and Vikki and I both need to be getting to our respective homes.  We do stop for a couple quick pictures down by the waterfront, but after that it’s “Goodbye” and the agreement that we’ll both immediately start working on our plan to meet again in December and that I’ll write about the adventure here.

 

It’s a good feeling to be back on the road after that.  Not the driving, but what we’ve just done.  It’s a damn good feeling.  Few things in life can be done for 100% good.  What we did just there, that’s one of them, and I don’t think there’s any better feeling in the world than having done it.

Feeling light as a feather now, I’m pointed west and getting towards the outskirts of town, I spot a place to pull over and do so.  My passenger mirror is WAY out of adjustment for some reason, and I think I really need to get these windows up.  The rain is getting worse and the clouds over the horizon tell me it’s not going to get any better.

The mirror is no problem, but when I climb into my back seat to spark the wires, I immediately pull them right out of their sockets.

Dang it!!!

Ok, no problem.  I’ll just take the back seat cushion out, pull the door card back, and see if I can’t get things back into place…

I’m fighting this darn thing tooth and nail, making up new swear words while scrunched back there behind the driver’s seat that doesn’t move when I hear police sirens.  I look out the side window and it’s a police car escorting that same convoy I passed (twice) earlier today, and they are MOVIN'!

I don’t even get a chance to say “hey, how about that” when the lead truck leans on his horn and sticks his hand out the window and waves in my direction.  I frantically slide my back-seat window open, hang out the side of the truck, and return the gesture as he drives off.  More waves follow from some of the other vehicles.

For a while after they drove off I couldn’t even move.  I was (still am) absolutely awestruck by the gesture.  The guys in the Ukrainian Army...  they remembered me.  They gave ME a wave!!!

A while back when I said “I don’t think there’s any better feeling…”? 

 

It just got a lot better. 

 

 

tuna55
tuna55 MegaDork
9/9/22 1:08 p.m.

Love this. Thanks, Bill. Thanks, Vikki.

java230
java230 PowerDork
9/9/22 1:21 p.m.

Amazing! Thanks for sharing.

84FSP
84FSP UberDork
9/9/22 3:19 p.m.

Great work Bill & Vikki!  The context for what is going on there nw is helpful as well.  I worry life will get tougher before it gets better with the ongoing fighting into winter.  The Ukranian Forces are really on a roll - hopefully this whole mess ends soon.

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
9/12/22 3:49 p.m.

In reply to 84FSP, Java230, and Tuna55 :

Thank you guys.  This Prologue is for you.  I hope you see your efforts reflected in the reactions from the children in the photos at the end.

Prologue


So what now?  The trip home is no less eventful than the trip out.  Looking now, I can see I have just as many stories to tell from my journey out of the country as I did from my journey in but this story has to stop somewhere and I think this is a good place for it

The first night I drive towards a spectacular constant display of lightning dancing on the hills in the west.  I’m stopped at a car accident sometime in the pitch-black night.  A passenger vehicle has hit military armor, possibly due to all the rain.

I start the truck the next morning the same time an air-raid siren sounds in the east.  Another sounds slightly closer.  Then another.  Then the town I’m in fires up theirs.  It’s the last one I hear but I don’t hear anything hit the ground.

The border crossing back into the EU takes me 7-hours.  A lot happens during that time.

But I think we can safely gloss over it.  Most of it anyway.  But on a random one-street-town, just off the main drag, I did make one stop…

 

A grandmother pushing a little girl in a stroller enters the cemetery while I make my way out.  The girl has yellow and blue ribbons in her hair.  They stop at one of the fresh graves in the 2nd to last row.   

In another town, I saw this:

(Photos containing the fallen victims were omitted from the upload)

 

Eventually I get home to my family and we open Vikki’s gift.  It’s wonderful, and she made everything herself.

 

 

A while later, she sends me these:

 

 

So what next?  Simple:  “Dnipro Children’s Rehabilitation Center”.  December run. 

Anything we collect from the paypal account in excess of what’s needed by Ira and Kisgorbo will begin to fund that run.  Every Christmas needs a miracle, and I think we can make one happen.  Vikki and I are going to work together to sort out the needs of the facility, and we’re going to work together to find children who need gifts.  I don’t think there will be a shortage of either.

As children don’t stay in a rehabilitation center, the way they do in a Hospital, we’ll probably focus our attention again with refugees taking shelter in the area.  The same as we did with the school supplies.

Pen is already on paper, and lines are already being drawn on the map.  The donation drive will officially start in late November.  It’d be earlier, but I unfortunately have other obligations that will prevent an earlier run.  Hopefully I won’t miss anyone when I send out the notifications.

And if you wanted to share, here’s a quick video link with recap:  31 children in 21 families are starting this year with extra school supplies in their backpacks.  $5000 in medical supplies, and 48 stuffed animals were sent to Dnipro Regional Children’s Hospital which houses 30-35 children.   Included with our donation was a portable EKG machine, contactless thermometers, pulse-ox meters, clinic rated baby nebulizer, blood sugar monitor, and blood testing kits and strips.

https://youtu.be/QM4GtlSYj_s

 

 

Thank you everyone.

tuna55
tuna55 MegaDork
9/12/22 4:05 p.m.

In reply to Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) :

No, Bill. Thank you.

DarkMonohue
DarkMonohue HalfDork
9/12/22 4:05 p.m.

Berkeleying allergies.

tuna55
tuna55 MegaDork
9/12/22 4:06 p.m.
DarkMonohue said:

Berkeleying allergies.

It is super super dusty in my office. I'm going to close the door.

java230
java230 PowerDork
9/12/22 4:28 p.m.

In reply to DarkMonohue :

Right? I think its the forest fires here.

Flynlow (FS)
Flynlow (FS) Dork
9/12/22 6:10 p.m.
tuna55 said:
DarkMonohue said:

Berkeleying allergies.

It is super super dusty in my office. I'm going to close the door.

Must be an odd autumn dust flare up.  Hit here too. 

Great work Bill, thank you very much for doing what you do, and sharing with us. 

84FSP
84FSP UberDork
9/12/22 6:51 p.m.

Thanks for what you are doing sir.  We take care of foster  kids because we can.  The hospital shots of kiddos hurt by a senseless war have me tearing  up from my Detroit hotel room.  Keep it up - Slava Ukraine!

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
9/16/22 9:24 a.m.

Hey guys.  I've got a follow up to the above but unfortunately the whole family is locked down for the 'Rona.  Just wanted to say thanks for all the work you all did to make that possible.  I've been invited to speak at a small fundraising event locally, so we officially have our first donors for the next run!

 

 

 

 

And of course,  I owe you all an update for the week:

 

 

So half-way through the month and we're slightly over half-way to our donation target!  I am beginning to realize from month's previous that the 25th is kind of a weird date to transfer on.  Starting this month, I'm going to move things to the right slightly and start transferring on the first.  Some people (myself included) have paydays that fall inline with the beginning and end of the month so that might make it easier on them to participate.

Other than that, plans are moving forward with the run.  I'm getting a little work done on the truck, and was even sneaking in a little "Dodge Charger" time before the lockdown hit us (I took the kids fishing and the next day their friend's mom tested positive.  We got sick shortly afterwards)

All good though.  Aside from one day of excruciating headaches, it's been a pretty easy ride.  But I think the Hungarlings might be getting a little bored...

 

Good times.

AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter)
AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/16/22 9:32 a.m.

1. i am jealous of the life education the Hungarlings are receiving.

2. today is payday, so there's another small donation headed your way via Paypal.  I trust your judgment to apply it where you see fit.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
9/16/22 12:12 p.m.

Thanks again, Bill and everyone here, for making such a difference. 

TJL (Forum Supporter)
TJL (Forum Supporter) Dork
9/16/22 2:39 p.m.

Bill, you are a berkin' SUPER HERO!!  
 

its all just amazing. Thank you Bill, Vikki, everyone else. You all absolutely rock. 

DarkMonohue
DarkMonohue HalfDork
9/18/22 5:12 p.m.
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) said:

But I think the Hungarlings might be getting a little bored...

I think they might be!  And I also think that baby Moskvitch needs a little freshening up.  Where's my blue paint?

DarkMonohue
DarkMonohue HalfDork
9/19/22 9:13 p.m.

May as well just go ahead and spill the beans.  The new Ukrainian flag paint scheme on the pedal car is obvious, but maybe the lettering is not.  It is supposed to read, "grassroots express Dnipro".  I probably should have mentioned that when I posted the photoshopped pic, but I was hoping it would be kind of a fun little Easter egg for people to find.

Keep up the good fight. We'll be here, eagerly awaiting the next installment. 

VikkiDp
VikkiDp New Reader
9/20/22 5:06 a.m.
DarkMonohue said:

"grassroots express Dnipro"

That's a great idea yes

Bill, where did you find this rare car?laugh  it was made in the USSR.

VikkiDp
VikkiDp New Reader
9/20/22 10:13 a.m.
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) said:

Of all the places on the internet that are out there helping Ukraine.  All the big charities, all the celebrities, all the people...  How did you find us?

I'm glad you did though.  None of this would be possible without your help.  Thank you

That's why i'm here(and i already wrote about it) - when i saw how ordinary people get together and help absolutely strangers who are in trouble. Perhaps some of you did not even know about the existence of a such a country before, maybe you didn't know where it is on the map. Many people thought that Ukraine was part of russia

It touched my heart - i wanted to thanks you all and to tell a little about Ukraine

Bill, i just asked you that Ira needs help and you answered - no problem!!!

Did you remember Ira's messages when she got supplies? 

When I think about how many people, how many kids have received help, I understand that I was not here by chance.

I'm very glad to be here! i'm glad met you all and say you Thanks!

Together we're powerful!!!

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
9/20/22 2:34 p.m.

In reply to AngryCorvair, David S. Wallens, and TJL :

Thank you guys so much.  Angry, I got the cash sir!  Thank you!

I am now free from COVID restrictions so here is where we stand:

 

I've got the balances updated and the eagle eyed among you will notice that I've updated the delivery dates as well.  I've been staying abreast of your posts on here and have a few updates to make all at once, so I think the best way would be to do it all one at a time.

here goes:
 

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
9/20/22 2:48 p.m.
DarkMonohue said:

May as well just go ahead and spill the beans.  The new Ukrainian flag paint scheme on the pedal car is obvious, but maybe the lettering is not.  It is supposed to read, "grassroots express Dnipro".  I probably should have mentioned that when I posted the photoshopped pic, but I was hoping it would be kind of a fun little Easter egg for people to find.

Keep up the good fight. We'll be here, eagerly awaiting the next installment. 

Ok, first update (the computer just gave me the blue screen of death, so I have to retype this):

Mrs. Hungary and I LOVED your photoshop!  That was awesome, man!

I'd like to give credit to Dark Monohue for this next one as I 100% took his idea and ran with it for personal gain:

Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to introduce to you "The Dnipro Express":

 

With Dark's idea I had the caricature drawn up, and then the artist asked "do you want an instagram handle added to it?".

Um...  Would "Dnipro Express" fit?

It would.  And better yet, no one had taken the hashtag or the instagram handle so off we went!

https://www.instagram.com/dniproexpress/

I've got a lot of irons in the fire at the moment, but I'm working hard to add a smattering of photos to the page in an effort to look like a legit effort for when I make the next step in this run (but that's update #2).

Feel free to follow or recommend as you see fit.  I posted the page in its infancy to the GoFundMe page (where I also posted 100% of the updates I posted here, but in GFM format which took me umpteen million hours) but the site isn't really designed for audience feedback so I have no idea if any of the donors there got to read any of the story.  Furthermore, none of them followed the page when I shared it, so I kind of have to assume the worst (and that makes me feel terrible.  I really do like to show people the amazing work they're doing).
 

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
9/20/22 2:52 p.m.
VikkiDp said:
DarkMonohue said:

"grassroots express Dnipro"

That's a great idea yes

Bill, where did you find this rare car?laugh  it was made in the USSR.

It was!  I found it here in Hungary for about $200 when my eldest was born.  This is the second time I've lived out here, and that little car has lived on three continents by now.  The kids love it, but don't play with it very often.  They mostly bring it out when I'm working in the garage (like now).

Which brings me to update 2:

The truck has been taken out of commission.  My next updates here will probably revolve around the work that's going on, but I've got a leak in the transfer case I need to solve and something that turned out to be a rather crazy exhaust issue that I need to get welded back up.  I'm frantically working on both, as well as a laundry list of smaller items (like the radio not working).  More to follow for sure. 

Short story long:  I have until October to get this thing ready for a 20,000km trek across Europe and down the west coast of Africa and back. 

(What the heck was I thinking???)

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