This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
Mercy mission volunteers on road to war-torn Syria
A group of volunteers has set off on a 3,100-mile journey to deliver humanitarian aid to families in war-torn Syria.
A convoy of 16 vans and ambulances met at Leicester Forest East services on the M1 yesterday afternoon to begin the arduous journey to take clothing and supplies to the Middle Eastern country.
The vehicles, which have also been donated, include six ambulances.They have all been filled with supplies and medicines and equipment for field hospitals in the country.
Syria has been embroiled in civil war after a series of uprisings against President Bashar al-Assad.
Aid worker Fadi-Al-Dairi, a Leicester representative of the charity Hand-in-Hand for Syria, said: "All of the vans are in good condition and they will be used for transporting patients.
"Rather than send them over empty, we thought we'd fill them with clothes and supplies which can be distributed once we get out there."
Most of the vehicles and supplies have been donated by people from Leicestershire.
There are 45 volunteers, mainly from Leicestershire, accompanying the vehicles.
Each van will carry at least 30 bags of clothes and supplies, including medicines, medical equipment and baby milk.
All the donated items have been collected during the past six weeks by Hand-in-Hand for Syria volunteers.
Mr Al-Dairi said: "I want to say a big thank-you to everyone who took time out to buy and donate clothes. We have collected hundreds of items and they form a vital part of aid delivery."
The journey from Leicester to Syria will take four days and cross Europe, through France and Italy, before a ferry takes the convoy to Greece and Turkey.
When they reach the Syrian border they will hand over the supplies to members of the Libyan Red Crescent – part of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The project has been organised by Hand-in-Hand for Syria, in partnership with charity Save Life, Save the World. Hanabi Alkhder, press officer for Hand-in-Hand for Syria, said: "We're hoping to get the humanitarian aid and medical equipment to people in Syria and to field hospitals.
"There are a lot of organisations involved here, but we're all working together to get vital supplies to those who need it the most."
For more information, visit: www.handinhandforsyria.org.uk