Northern Ireland man travels to Ukrainian border to help people stay connected amid conflict

A Co Antrim man has just returned from the Ukrainian border after delivering and installing crucial satellite communication.

David Greer from Islandmagee wanted to help people in the war-torn country stay connected to phone and internet networks in areas where the communication infrastructure has been destroyed.

As Russia continues to wage its war on Ukraine, it has also been destroying much of the infrastructure that keeps people connected to each other and the outside world.

Read more: Ukrainian student who reluctantly fled to NI after Russian invasion returns to Kyiv

There have been widespread reports of internet outages and slowdowns, and continued loss of power and connectivity.

People within Ukraine and outside are working to ensure it stays connected, despite the ongoing airstrikes and risk of cyberattacks.

David, 61, who runs LedinEdge Communications, traveled to Ukraine to assist with this effort just after Easter, accompanied by his wife Ruth.

As well as providing and communications support for production companies, one area of ​​David’s expertise is the provision of networks and services to inaccessible places particularly rural areas for domestic, commercial, government, film/TV and events.

David and Ruth Greer on their trip to deliver Humanitarian Aid to Ukrainians in Poland

The couple traveled for two days across land and sea from Northern Ireland to Kraków in southern Poland.

“I traveled on to Slovakia with a contact while Ruth stayed in Kraków as we were uncertain of what we were going into there,” David told Belfast Live.

“The satellite equipment was deployed along the Slovakia–Ukraine border. It had never been done in that area before but everything went perfectly in terms of the installation and signal.

“It couldn’t have gone better as we had been allowed a couple of days for the work but that saved us so much time. We had a time scale to get in and out as there were two kilometers long tailbacks of lorries with all sorts of of aid going through that same border crossing.

“They were only allowed in at night and in certain numbers because they could be such a target if they all went together. Everything was very well organized and there was no pandemonium or anything like that.”

David's van was loaded up with satellite equipment and supplies of life-saving humanitarian aid
David’s van was loaded up with satellite equipment and supplies of life-saving humanitarian aid

Reflecting on his trip so close to the war zone, David said: “The border area was just like home in that it wasn’t fortified in any way and in places it was one field backing on to another.

“I didn’t feel afraid but I was certainly a bit apprehensive about going. To be honest with the time restrictions on me that day, you hadn’t time to think about it.

“When you see 200 trucks in front of you and the drivers are standing about waiting, drinking tea and chatting, it made you feel easy so the fear factor didn’t come into it too much. It was a matter of doing what we had to do and then leave.”

David and Ruth with staff from Caldwell's SPAR Islandmagee who collected donations ahead of the trip
David and Ruth with staff from Caldwell’s SPAR Islandmagee who collected donations ahead of the trip

While David donated the communications equipment himself, he launched a GoFundMe page to cover travel costs, equipment and acquiring supplies on arrival for those fleeing Ukraine.

The grandfather-of-five also had spare capacity in the van and took supplies of personal hygiene, medical and baby care items, kindly donated by his members of his local community with the help of Caldwell’s SPAR in Islandmagee.

“Over the following two days, we went to a warehouse and loaded the van with food and water and took it to a Ukrainian relief center in Kraków,” David explained.

“The whole trip was very satisfying but more equipment will be required down the line so it may involve another trip in the near future. We have been told that the life-saving humanitarian aid we brought out is on the ground and being distributed.

“That’s the main thing for us, that the Ukrainian people are getting the help they need simply because of the generosity of people in Islandmagee and further afield. It was a long drive but it was well worth the effort.”

Read more: 86-year-old raises thousands to support those fleeing war in Ukraine

Read more: Co Armagh schoolkids raise over £12,000 for Ukraine crisis

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