Drumahoe firefighter-turned-aid worker, Wills Lynch, says the charitable people of Londonderry, Tyrone and Donegal, have allowed him to help hundreds of refugees who have fled the chaos in Eastern Ukraine over the past number of years.
Wills has been delivering provisions to some of poorest people on the European continent for over a quarter of century.
But he says the poverty he normally encounters in some of the more peripheral regions of Romania, Moldova and the Ukraine, has now been compounded by the recent conflict in the east of Ukraine and the Crimea.
Mr Lynch met some of these refugees at Christmas time.
“We met this pastor who was in charge of the Church and he had 53 families from the war-torn area of Ukraine, which is down in the east and they’d come up here because they had to leave their houses, which were wrecked,” he said.
“They had to leave their farms and their chickens, their hens, everything’s left, their cattle, everything.
“They were looking after them and on a Wednesday people can bring gifts, food, clothes, whatever they can, every Wednesday and then they have a big meal in the Church.
“There was 53 he’s looking after so it was good to help in that area,” said Mr Lynch.
Wills will be heading out east again later this year and this Friday will be holding an evening of Gospel Praise at Glendermott Presbyterian Church Hall during which a freewill offering will be taken up for anyone able to make a contribution to his ongoing mission in Romania, Moldova and the Ukraine.
The evening will commence at 7.45pm and will feature Dustin Black, the Montgomery Sisters, Lynda Lindsay, Margaret Johnston, Justified and Nigel Davidson.
“All over this city people have put their hands in their pockets and helped me through the years and without their help I couldn’t do this,” he said.
“That’s not only here but as far away as Newtonstewart, Strabane, Donemana and right up as far as Maghera and Toomebridge and right around the whole area and in Donegal around Raphoe and that area people have helped,” said Wills.
Wills started travelling to Romania bringing his Christian message and much needed aid to the local people, who were suffering grinding poverty following the collapse of the Nicolae Ceausescu regime in 1989.