Bristol man returns after delivering an ambulance to Gaza!
Supporters, family, and members of the Turkish community are celebrating this weekend after welcoming back Sakir Yildirim from his eight thousand mile round trip delivering an ambulance loaded with practical aid to Gaza. The money to buy the ambulance was raised by the local Turkish community and left from Gloucester Road on Friday 20th February. Local people helped fill the ambulance with practical aid before its departure.
Sakir said: – “It’s wonderful to be back in Bristol after this amazing journey. But I’m keen to tell everyone about Gaza. I saw the horrendous devastation caused by the Israeli bombardment, the numerous wreaked buildings, people living in tents and many grieving families. But despite the problems and the shortages the people were working very hard. The streets were clean, we were welcomed everywhere we went- the people were truly delightful.”
He goes on to say “After all I’ve seen I feel I can’t rest. I’d like to build closer links between our two cities. And I personally want to go back again and again, with more vehicles and more practical aid. There is so much we can do to help Gaza and from what I’ve seen it is truly needed.
Sakir drove on his own across France and Italy, crossed by ferry to Greece, and from there onto Turkey. He received extensive media attention in Turkey appearing on both television and in the newspapers. By chance he met a convoy from Scotland also heading for Gaza, and continued the rest of the journey with them. They drove south through Syria and Jordon, crossed by ferry to Egypt, and then arrived at the Rafah crossing on Saturday 7th March.
He says “Most people don’t realise that Gaza is still suffering occasional bombing. Just as we crossed into Gaza we heard bombs falling nearby. It was quite a shock, to say the least!”
The vehicles were met by officials on the Gaza side and taken to accommodation. Sakir stayed for five days in Gaza, before flying home from Egypt last Thursday night.
During his stay he visited hospitals and the university, he also met grieving families who have loved-ones killed or imprisoned by the Israelis. He witnessed the effects of the widespread and indiscriminate bombing in the Gaza Strip. He saw numerous ruined houses, the bombed Parliament building, wreaked police stations & farms, and even bombed fishing boats. Many of the buildings that were still standing had bullet holes or shrapnel damage. He also noticed that many otherwise intact buildings had broken windows because the Israelis won’t allow in building materials for repair.
Sakir took advice from an organisation IHH www.ihh.org.tr - an international relief organisation based in Turkey. He handed over the ambulance to a medical clinic in Gaza. He says “I was shocked to see an ambulance which had been wrecked, totally mangled, by the Israelis. Why they should destroy an ambulance is beyond my comprehension. But I felt at least our ambulance from Bristol would help make up for this willful damage.”
When he handed over the keys the odometer on the ambulance read 3,820 miles.
The practical aid was donated to an orphanage. Sakir says “It was especially good to see the clothes, blankets, medicines and children’s toys, which had come all the way from Bristol, being carried into the orphanage. I also donated my sleeping bag, my pillow, and even my spare trousers!”
Sakir also donated a laptop computers provided by the local group “Bristol Computers 4 Palestine”. This group appeals for laptop computers which it refurbishes and sends to Palestine for educational and community use. FFI www.BristolComputers4Palestine.co.uk
On his return to Bristol, Sakir is proud to be wearing a Palestinian scarf, which was presented to him in Gaza.
He plans to share his experiences at meetings in the city in the next few weeks.
Sakir and the Scottish convoy arrived two days ahead of the main VIVA PALESTINA convoy which had been delayed in Egypt. It had followed a route from the UK south through France and Spain, and finally across North Africa.
Bristol is awaiting news of Mohammed Elhaddad,who left Bristol on Friday 13th February driving a car in the Viva Palestina convoy to Gaza and is expected back soon.
|1||Good stuff!||Boyd||Mon Mar 16, 2009 10:45|
|2||Well done Sakir, surely the Evening Post will publish your story.||Tony||Mon Mar 16, 2009 19:44|
|3||Message from retired US Army Colonel||Tony||Tue Mar 17, 2009 09:14|