Scottish student driving ambulance to Poland for Ukrainian refugees after Iraq mission

Vehicle will be filled with medical and other essential items for refugees

Umran Ali Javaid is driving an ambulance to the Polish-Ukrainian border to distribute supplies to refugees fleeing the Russian invasion. Photo: Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) / PA

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A Scottish student who sold his graphics card to buy an ambulance is driving to the Ukrainian border to donate the emergency vehicle as well as medical supplies to benefit war victims.

Umran Ali Javaid traded the computer device for cash and used his savings and money from his mother to make up the rest of the £2,500 cost of the ambulance.

Speaking to The National, Mr Javaid said he plans to set off from his home town of Glasgow on Friday and take a ferry from Newcastle to the Netherlands before driving to the Medyka crossing on the Polish-Ukrainian border, where charity staff will be waiting for him.

The Scotsman said he is determined to keep his 100 per cent attendance record and not miss any classes at Glasgow Caledonian University, where he is a third-year student studying international tourism and events.

Umran Ali Javaid is preparing to drive 2,500 kilometres from Glasgow to the Polish-Ukrainian border to donate an ambulance for war victims. PA

“Everyone is trying to help in the best way they can and I know that I can help in this way,” he said.

“The ambulance will be used to transport injured people and disabled people. It’s heartbreaking [to see] what’s going on in Ukraine. In most wars, civilians have to pay the highest price, so I’m going to go there.”

While his plan clearly involves a mammoth effort and lots of planning, the student is not overwhelmed by the 2530-kilometre journey that lies ahead of him.

“It’s not a big deal what I am doing, it’s going to take me four days maximum,” he said.

Mr Javaid plans to fill the ambulance with medical supplies as he drives towards Medyka, where he will be met by charity workers helping Ukrainians escaping the Russian invasion.

Once in Ukraine, the ambulance will be used to distribute supplies and transport civilians out of immediate danger.

After handing over the vehicle and donations, Mr Javaid plans to take a flight back to Scotland in time for class on Tuesday.

In recent years, he has become an old hand at navigating long trips to deliver aid to war victims.

The aspiring events manager has delivered more than 30 second-hand ambulances to war zones around the world including Iraq, Syria, Gaza, Yemen and Burma.

The Syrian war stands out in his mind as his most harrowing experience.

“It was very bad there, there were a lot of bombings,” he recalled.

“If you had to see the things that I have seen … sometimes it makes me feel bad when I come back to the UK and everything is hunky-dory, so I want to help more.

“It does take its toll on you. It’s sad seeing a human being in a bad place. It makes me appreciate what we have here.”

The 3.5-tonne vehicle was purchased in Newcastle and was previously used to transport patients in the north of England.

Dr Pauline Bell, senior lecturer in fashion and marketing at GCU and one of Mr Javaid's tutors, said: “Umran is a remarkable, unassuming young man who is an inspiration to others.

“He thinks little of using his spare time to help others and embarking on incredible journeys to deliver ambulances to people in need.”

Updated: March 11, 2022, 8:16 AM
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