On Tuesday, the two of them departed for the Ukrainian capital, and on Saturday, they were back in Friesland. The reason for the visit? To see how they can help after the Kachovka Dam broke. We often assist in major floods. For example, we helped with the red water pumps in England in 2014 and in Limburg in 2017 after the floods there.
No flood assistance
“We expected to provide flood assistance,” Herman says on Monday morning over coffee. “But when we arrived there, it turned out that the water supply was a much bigger problem. Within three weeks, a million people were left without drinking water.”
“It deeply affected me. There were many moments when I got goosebumps or a lump in my throat. But that also motivates me,” Almer adds.
“Emotionally, we were not prepared for this. On the way back, we drove hundreds of kilometers without saying a word to each other.”
It’s a crazy world
What impressed the men the most was the resilience of the residents. “They refuse to give up,” says Herman. Almer gives an example: “The air raid siren went off, but there’s a band playing on a square. A girl of about fifteen with a jacket that says ‘oh baby, it’s a crazy world’ calmly listens. The traces of war are so visible, but life goes on.”
Shooting Russians and landmines
And that makes the task more complex. Providing people with water is something the company has never done before. “We’re on the other side now,” says Herman. “Usually, there’s too much water that needs to be drained, but now there’s too little.” Almer adds, “There are so many aspects to this problem. The politics, the war situation. There are shooting Russians and landmines in the area. These are all things we have to consider for the first time.”
And there’s time pressure. According to the United Nations, as a result of the dam breach, around 700,000 people no longer have access to clean drinking water, and that number is expected to rise from 700,000 to a million within three weeks.
We want to do it, and we can do it!
The specific task hasn’t been defined yet. Van Heck hasn’t been asked to get involved yet. Someone needs to push the button in the coming days. Herman says, “It could be Ukraine, the United Nations, or our Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But with this work visit, we want to show that we are motivated and capable of doing it. I assume we will be working there. Secretly, we’re already working in the workshop.”