Working together to deliver goods to Ukraine
At Girteka, we understand how crucial it is to remain united and to work together, especially when that means working for the greater good. Being a large international organisation means we have great responsibilities too, not only to our clients, our people, the community, and the environment, but also to socially responsible causes. One of these causes is providing humanitarian aid to the Ukrainian people during this difficult time.
When the war started back in February 2022, colleagues at Girteka came together to contribute as much as possible to the humanitarian efforts, providing trucks to carry supplies free of charge for organizations such as the Lithuanian Red Cross and the Food Bank (“Maisto Bankas”) from Vilnius and Kaunas to Poland, as well as freeing up space in our Poznan, Poland, transport base to store various supplies going towards Ukraine.
In collaboration with our clients, humanitarian aid was carried by Girteka’s fleet to Poland from countries like Norway, the United Kingdom, and Italy. Several more Full Truck Loads (FTLs) were organized to transport aid from all over Europe. Meanwhile, within our organisation, the company immediately reached out to provide financial and psychological help to all our Ukrainian employees and their families.
Hard work begins
After the initial rush of humanitarian efforts, mixed with adrenaline and uncertainty, the real hard work began in May, as the company began receiving more and more requests for deliveries of humanitarian cargo from Europe to the war-torn country. Through our clients the company was, once again, approached by large organisations such as the Red Cross and the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) asking to help deliver aid to Ukraine.
Since spring until October of this year various deliveries were made from Europe to Ukraine and its different regions, mainly Kyiv and Lviv. The humanitarian aid consisted of essential goods, such as food (rice, pasta, canned produce, etc.), and other supplies (clothes, blankets, kitchen tools, etc.), as well as medical cargo. Also, it became possible to coordinate crucial commercial cargo back (carrying for ex., sunflower oil, sugar, pellets for heating, grain, etc.) from Ukraine to all over the EU helping the country to continue exporting its goods despite the chaos. But it was no easy task.
Challenges and risks
The first challenge for the team, led by Diana Končienė and her Ukrainian colleague Violetta Landa, was to figure out all the necessary procedures for Girteka as a transportation provider to be able to work and ship humanitarian aid to Ukraine. This stage of the project involved a lot of sometimes difficult communication and coordination with Ukrainian authorities to acquire all the necessary paperwork.
Another challenge that the company had to face head-on was that some our drivers are Ukrainian nationals. As mobilisation was declared throughout the entire country for all men under 60 years old, the team had to figure out not only whether the drivers are willing, but also, would they even be able to leave the country after they deliver the cargo. The border crossing was another struggle, involving lengthy queues, typically stopping the trucks for two to five days and, in some cases, even up to 12 days until they could move forward.
Finally, the very idea of working in a country at war necessitated a hard internal process of risk evaluation. “We were constantly battling with the thought that even though this is business, most importantly, the lives of the drivers and security of the trucks may be at risk,” says Diana, Team Lead Business Development at Girteka Europe West.
Commercial meet humanitarian needs
Eventually, Diana’s team managed to overcome all the bureaucratical challenges and succeeded in organising safe and secure transportation to and from Ukraine. Throughout the duration of the project, Girteka’s trucks were going in with humanitarian aid and coming back carrying commercial cargo, as the country was in dire need to continue exporting its goods, especially raw materials and grain, which filled their warehouses to full capacity.
Since May till October, approximately 250 deliveries were carried out to and from Ukraine. “It feels good that we were able to balance commercial and humanitarian needs. To support the country with what we are doing, as responsibility to communities is in the core of our company,” says Diana.
Although this leg of the project is over, the team continues approaching companies involved in humanitarian efforts and is ready to proceed with deliveries in the future. “We are always looking for ways to bring the product in and out for the commercial loads,” comments Violetta, Business Development Manager at Girteka Europe West.
After a challenging period, both Diana and Violetta attribute their success to their colleagues. “It was not an easy task but thanks to the hard work of the whole team these projects were a success. There were ups and downs, where we thought, that this is it, we will not succeed, but by supporting each other and taking one step at a time, celebrating the little accomplishments, we managed,” says Diana.
“We were all working as a team and that was our way to success. Without them it would have been a mission impossible,” adds Violetta. That kind of spirit is what makes Girteka a Responsible Logistics provider.