In September 2016 we headed back to Moldova, a small country with a population of just over 3.5 million, which is sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 Moldova emerged as an independent republic. One of the poorest Countries in Europe, the economy relies heavily on agriculture and having few natural resources has to import all of its energy supplies from Russia and Ukraine.
Moldova is a beautiful and very scenic country and the locals are warm and welcoming.
While it is undoubtedly a place where many live in poverty, the people are positive and working hard to improve their situation. Once we arrived in Moldova we spent a week training local men in how to use the engines and equipment with the help of local interpreters as very little English is spoken.
During that week we taught them how to use the breathing apparatus in a search and rescue environment, road traffic collison training, trauma training and how to use the pumps and ladders that are on the engines.
At the end of the week there is a special ceremony where the firefighters demonstrate their newly-learned skills to, among others, local dignitaries from the area.
The guys that we train are always very appreciative of their involvement with the charity, and even though they have very little themselves in the way of material possessions, they like to give the SERA volunteers gifts when they leave. On one of my last trips one guy gave me the buckle from the belt of his own Fire Brigade uniform, which was very touching.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of my sponsors including Cross Stores, Swainbost Shop, Ness Social Club, all my family and friends and everybody who is involved with all the Fire Stations in the Western Isles.