A Perth man and his wife are providing aid to hundreds of Ukrainian refugees who are crossing the border into Romania.
Greg Smith and his wife Giorgiana have lived in Galati – near the border with Ukraine – for around six months.
And he and Giorgiana have raised more than 6,000 Euros to provide those fleeing the Russian invasion with essentials.
So far, they’ve bought hot meals, small electric heaters and bus tickets for onward travel.
Many of the Ukrainian people arriving in Galati have travelled for three days through snow and rain.
For now, they are staying in student halls of residents and at churches.
And Greg, 34, a former Perth Academy pupil, is at the forefront of distributing the donations that continue to pour in from locals.
Providing what is really needed
The project engineer was brought up on Perth’s Crieff Road but has lived in France, Germany and then Spain since 2014.
He plans to stay in Romania for another year.
But for the last week, he and Giorgiana have been speaking to the Ukrainian refugees to find out what they need most.
So far, more than 1,000 people have crossed the border.
He said: “A lot of people are coming already with blankets and food and so on, with great intentions, but they miss some things.
“So we ask them ‘what do you really need, what are you missing?’
“The first night that we went down, there was a table with bread. And there was more bread than you’ve ever seen in your life in one place.
“They said ‘we don’t have heating in the rooms. Some people have been bringing small electric heaters but we have to ration them out. We’ve been giving them to people with small children.
“With the money that’s been raised, that’s been one of the first things as well as hot food that was also required.”
Meanwhile, transport to other European countries is also being arranged with the money raised.
For many, paying for onward travel is a challenge.
Giorgiana said: “There’s a lot of people coming in and they stay only for two or three days and then they continue their journey.
“In the first two days, let’s say, people with a better financial situation came with cars and so on.
“Now people with a worse financial situation come and we will pay the transportation for them to go further.
“Most of them go to Germany to ask for political asylum.
“On Wednesday, I paid for the transportation for a mother and her daughter to go to Greece.
“People come with their own currency and they can’t exchange it.”
But as well as providing necessities, the couple also wish to bring some joy to the Ukrainians in Galati.
On Thursday, Giorgiana bought McDonalds as a treat for them. She bought 80 happy meals and 300 adult meals.
She added: “They found out that we were coming with happy meals and all the kids came down and were so happy. It was a total success.”
An emotional and humbling experience
For Greg and Giorgiana, the generosity of donors and Galati locals has been humbling.
And they are determined to continue providing support for Ukrainian refugees for as long as they can.
Greg said: “It really caught me off guard how emotional it’s been. One of the nicest things has been the public response from the local people, you know.
People put the trust in us and we’re not going to let them down.”
Perth man Greg Smith.
“It’s emotional for me to see the kindness given by the Romanian people. What they have, they’ll give.
“People put the trust in us and we’re not going to let them down. We’re going to do our best.”
And for Giorgiana, being able to help Ukrainian refugees is particularly meaningful. Her grandfather and his family fled Ukraine during the Second World War before settling in Romania.
She said: “For me, it’s also a bit personal because my grandfather did this route. He was also a refugee from Ukraine during the Second World War.
“And he did this with his family as well. His mother was Russian and his father was Ukrainian.”
Anyone who wishes to donate to Greg and Giorgiana’s fundraiser can do so online.