16 February 2003
Unloading starts Monday morningFirst thing this morning (Monday), a Danish cargo ship, newly docked in the port of Ashdod in Israel, will start unloading its cargo.
It will mark the start of the final stage of the Dove and Dolphin mission, which set off from Torquay in Devon two weeks ago.
The mission will deliver humanitarian aid directly to Palestinian people in Gaza.
Mission leader David Halpin hopes what he and his fellow volunteers have been able to achieve will inspire others to do the same.
He hopes more missions will follow – making “citizen to citizen” contact, without the involvement of politicians or religious organisations.
Later the same day, a convoy of Israeli lorries will set off for Karni - just an hour down the road from Ashdod.
The precious cargo of food, clothing, medical supplies and raw materials will then be transferred to Palestinian lorries for the final stretch of the journey.
Members of the Dove and Dolphin team will be with the convoy all the way and will see its cargo handed over to the people of Gaza, before heading for home.
Buying the cargo, chartering the boat – the M V Barbara – and other necessary expenses have cost David and Sue Halpin around £95,000.
Their effort and commitment have attracted £25,000 in support, predominantly from private individuals around the country.
One 83-year-old donor from Buckinghamshire sent £1,000 through the post in memory of his wife who died ten years ago.
Her birthday was the 1st of February – the same date the Dove and Dolphin mission set off from Torquay.
He read news of the mission on teletext and thought immediately that a donation would be the most appropriate way of marking her birthday.
“She would approve of what they are trying to do,” he said.
“So much of the suffering around the world is so unnecessary.”
A Buckinghamshire GP was also moved to help when he heard what David Halpin and his team of volunteers were aiming to do.
It was “a last minute thing” because he only heard of the expedition days before it left for Ashdod.
His reponse was to order £1,500-worth of basic medical supplies and have them despatched directly to Devon.
He had read about the Dove and Dolphin mission in a news report and reacted straight away.
The goods were delivered by courier.
Dr. Abrahim Hamami believes the person to person nature of the Dove and Dolphin mission is particularly important.
“I wish and hope that David Halpin will be successful and know there are others who will be happy to help on future missions if they happen,” he said.
Sue Halpin has been recording donations as they come in back at home in Devon.
She is “amazed and grateful” for people’s generosity.
“In many cases, people who do not know us. They are very trusting, sending cheques through the post,” she said.
News that the M V Barbara has arrived safely at Ashdod has been welcomed by Sue.
But she admits that “the next few days will be anxious ones.”