As some of you know, Mark (AKA Mr Wibbs) went out to Saranda in Albania as part of team 2 of what has become known in our church as 'Mission FETA' ... He left Thursday 10th April and came home on Wednesday evening (16th) - to much rejoicing! Below - in red - is a brief description of the project (published as part of a recent newsletter for the Prostate Cancer Charity, of which one of the team members is Chief Executive...)
With help from the local Fire and Rescue Service and local businesses in the area, two fire appliances have been bought and will be driven by a team of five from Reading Vineyard Church the 1,200 miles to Saranda in Albania starting on 4th April. This follows a successful mission last year when church members drove a fully equipped ambulance to the Albanian town.
(This is a picture of the ambulance on a call while the team were out there!)
Once there, the team will spend time with local fire fighters training them to use the vehicles and kit. Youth worker and ex fire-fighter, Paul Lowe, organiser of the trip, said:
“I am currently undertaking a project to deliver two equipped fire engines to Sarande which is situated in the southern most tip of Albania. They currently have a poorly working water tanker and the fire fighters out there do everything. Should they be a part of the European Union the area of ground they currently cover would require a minimum of thirteen fire engines. I am a part-time youth worker for Reading Vineyard Church and currently studying for a BA honours degree in Youth and Community Work and Applied Theology. Prior to this I was a fire fighter for seven years. I became involved in supporting the people of Albania through my church and I am now coordinating numerous fundraising initiatives with the young people to raise funds to equip and deliver a fire engine. Recently we were able to purchase a second appliance and we are now looking to equip it. This is a standard UK Dennis fire engine and the first a 6x4 Range Rover fire appliance. The Saranda Fire Department has an old, donated fire truck that is, in reality, nothing more than a glorified red lorry with a small pump and some canvas hose. The brigade had no protective clothing until we donated some. The fire engines and equipment we are bringing now, will transform their ability to do their jobs properly.”The journey to Albania will take about five days, passing through France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Austria and Italy. Saranda is a town on the southernmost tip of Albania with a population of 35,100.
“This is a fantastic opportunity to help a very deprived community. Currently they have only one fire engine to cover a community of over 35,000 people. This will be helping the community in Albania.” (John Neate - Paul's father in law, also part of the FETA team)
Here are a couple of fairly representative shots of the training the guys were able to carry out during their time in Saranda.
I wanted to post about this because I was totally delighted that my Mark got to be part of something so exciting, practical, and 'kingdom-building' in its essence... He came back very energised and revitalised in his faith and sense of purpose, which is sometimes easy to lose in the hum-drum of daily existence.You can see more photographs of the trip here on Facebook.