Feilding Herald : February 2nd 2012
13 THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2012 NEWS Marton Specials Specials 188 Broadway, Marton Centennial Mall Phone: 06 327 4561 Hours: Sun, Mon 10am-6pm Tue 10am-7pm Wed 10am-8pm Thur 10am-8.30pm Fri, Sat 10am-9pm SALE STARTS SALE STARTS Thursday 4 February Thursday 4 February ENDS ENDS Monday 6 February Monday 6 February while stocks last - conditions apply while stocks last - conditions apply $$26 26.99 .99 $$29 29.99 .99 $$24 24.99 .99 $$36 36.99 .99 $$17 17.99 .99 $$27 27.99 .99 $$34 34.99 .99 $$31 31.99 .99 Black Hear t Black Hear t 1 ltr 1 ltr Kahlua Kahlua 700 ml 700 ml Jagermeister Jagermeister 700ml 700ml with glasses Smirnoff Smirnoff 1 ltr 1 ltr Jim Beam Jim Beam 10 pk cans 10 pk cans Woodstock Woodstock 4 pk, 4 pk, 440ml 8% 440ml 8% Cody’s Cody’s 12pk 12pk 8% cans 8% cans NZ lager NZ lager 18pk 18pk short dated 4% short dated 4% Pure Blond Pure Blond 12pk st 12pk st Tui Qts Tui Qts Cody’s Cody’s 10% 12pk 10% 12pk Waikato Waikato 24pkst 24pkst VB VB Cans 6pk Cans 6pk Woodstock Woodstock 1 ltr 1 ltr Canadian Canadian Club Club 1 ltr 1 ltr Teachers Teachers 1 ltr 1 ltr $$99.99 .99 $$17 17.99 .99 $$14 14 .99 .99 $$23 23.99 .99 $$33 33.99 .99 $$77.99 .99 Seagers Seagers 1 ltr 1 ltr $$29 29.99 .99 4331105AA $$19 19.99 .99 Cruiser Cruiser cans and bottles 12pk cans and bottles 12pk $$27 27.99 .99 Heineken Heineken 15pkst 15pkst Hagen Hagen 15pkst 15pkst $$17 17.99 .99 $$15 15.99 .99 Tui Tui 12pkst 12pkst $$19 19.99 .99 $$31 31.99 .99 No ID, No Service Drama, farce of Belarus charity truck Driven: Michael Conlon, part time Feilding resident who drove a charity truck to Ireland to Belarus. Photo: BOBBIE NICHOLLS By BOBBIE NICHOLLS Irishman Michael Conlon, who with his wife Anna Kavanagh spends the Irish winters in Feilding, told the Friendly Wives Club about his experience driving a charity truck to Russia. With time on his hands four years ago, Michael Conlon read about a charity group needing a driver to take a van of donated goods to an orphanage in Belarus, and volun- teered his time and skills. The charity, WEast Chernobyl, collects for children orphaned in the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power sta- tion explosion. The institution’s residents have grown up but most have severe mental or physical handicaps and remain in the dilapidated buildings the charity helps to repair. Soon after they left on their first trip, his co-driver Jeff, said ‘‘There is something I need to tell you.’’ ‘‘That is always an ominous beginning,’’ Michael said. ‘‘I have never driven faster than 45kmh,’’ Jeff told him. ‘‘He was no use as a relief driver, and what was worse, he couldn’t read a map. ‘‘I had to drive the whole 3500km, across eight countries I had never been to before.’’ Leaving Ireland on a night ferry, they drove to Dover the first day, crossed to Calais and continued to Ghent in Belgium, stopping on the way to view the site of the WWII allied forces landings at Dunkirk. ‘‘I found that very moving, but completely lost on Jeff,’’ he said. On the second night, in Potsdam, Germany he found he had lost his passport. ‘‘Although I did not need it for Europe, there was no way I could get into Russia without a passport and visa.’’ At 5.30am he was on the phone to Anna, who obtained his passport number and Michael and Jeff caught a double-decker train into Berlin and the Irish embassy. Photos were taken and a tempor- ary passport issued with no problems until they went to the Belarus consulate for a new visa. ‘‘It is not so easy to explain the need for a visa in sign language,’’ Michael said. ‘‘They were suspicious that we might have been intelligence agents.’’ Eventually the receptionist behind a window indicated to Jeff to put his passport in a drawer and push it through to the other side of the window. It got jammed. 40 minutes later, aided by people queued behind, an umbrella rib, and a ruler, the passport was freed, visa supplied, and any suspicions of ‘intelligence’ had been disproved. ‘‘She thought we were eejits,’’ Michael said. At the Russian border the inter- preter booked to assist them greeted them with that ominous sentence – ‘‘I have something I should tell you.’’ The interpreter had passed his allo- cation at that border post and the next one was 400km away. ‘‘The road went through Polish and Lithuanian forest, partly sealed, but very dark, like a WWII movie,’’ Michael said. ‘‘When a Lithuanian police car passed, turned around and followed me, that’s the only time I felt scared on the whole trip. ‘‘We passed an elderly couple on a small farmlet with a horse-drawn plough, and just across the rickety fence was an eight wheeled tractor ploughing a 1000 acre paddock. The contrasts were quite tragic.’’ They passed heavily made-up young women with baskets of fruit, who they later learned were prostitutes waiting for truck drivers, and the baskets to show the police they were selling fruit. ‘‘Everyone was aware of what was going on, but the law appeared to be upheld,’’ he said. At Vilnius, in Lithuania, armed Russian guards searched the van and despite some paperwork problems they made it to Minsk in Belarus to meet the rest of the team. Michael found the institution very run down and could not deal with the sights in the wards. Later they were taken to a modern orphanage for intellectually and physically challenged babies and children and a little girl attached herself to him, having to be dragged away at the end of the tour. ‘‘It was emotionally very draining.’’ While some of the volunteers cut hair and bathed residents, he spent his time working with the building team. Was the experience worth it? ‘‘The feel-good factor for the volunteers was not sufficient if it didn’t improve the people’s lives sig- nificantly,’’ he said. ‘‘ The money could have been better utilised by being spent to improve the local economy, buying local materials and employing local tradespeople. A local hairdresser could have come each week for a year for the cost of sending a volunteer from Ireland to do it once. ‘‘Much of what we transported in the van was useless junk – like strappy evening shoes and dresses, although the soft toys were well received. A water company donated 200 bottles of water which we car- ried all the way across Europe. It would have saved petrol to take an empty container and fill it from a tap in Poland. ‘‘It was well intentioned but not well thought out. ‘‘Had Anna been with me to share the sights, I would have enjoyed it more, and I would not have lost my passport.’’ If you have an unusual tale of your experiences you would like to share, let us know.
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