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A pharmacist from Manchester is on his way to Poland to help deliver urgent humanitarian aid to refugees fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Father-of-three Zeshan Rehmani is due to land in Krakow tonight before embarking on a three-hour drive to the border with the war-torn state.

The 36-year-old launched his Manchester Pharmacy and Health Clinic in Stockport Road, Longsight, only six months ago.

But he told the Manchester Evening News his Muslim faith compelled him to go to help.

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His journey is part of the charity Action for Humanity’s effort to help the refugees – mainly women and children. Zeshan is no stranger to conflict zones, having carried out similar work on the Syrian border for the same charity.

The pharmacist said: “I am going because of my religion. I am a Muslim, and that is not just about helping other Muslims.”

He said his wife Asifa, 31, was fully behind his decision to go.



Stephen Gooderson has set up a charity which will supply Ukrainian families with homes

“My role will be to carry out an urgent needs assessment, provide emergency aid and to link up with other local charities on the ground,” said Zeshan.

He is due to return on Monday and intends to continue fundraising for the humanitarian effort in Ukraine.

And Zeshan hailed the work of Action for Humanity.



Women and children rest inside the sports hall of a primary school in Poland

He said: “They are one of the largest non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working inside Syria and they get a lot of funding from the United Nations.

“It is a privilege to be volunteering to help them in their work.”

Meanwhile, people across Greater Manchester continue to make generous contributions of cash and essentials to help the tide of refugees flowing out of Ukraine.

Retired estate agent Stephen Gooderson and his wife Jackie have set up a charity which will supply Ukrainian families with homes rent-free for a year after they have arrived.

Stephen, 64, who suffers from multiple sclerosis which recurred when he was involved in a hit-and-run-accident 12 months ago, said one private landlord has already donated a house free of rent for a year.

In addition, the Ukrainian community in Tameside has raised cash to pay for the rent of three more houses for refugees, and Stephen says he is targeting additional homes.



People walk past a destroyed Russian military vehicle in Irpin, Ukraine

Stephen explained: “I have had a strong connection with the Ukrainian community over many years.

“The Ukrainian on Stockport Road in Ashton is where my mum and dad used to go when I was a child and we had many Ukrainian neighbors when we lived in Dukinfield.

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“I had my 21st birthday there and not long after that we met a Ukrainian couple who have been our life-long friends, so you can say we are sort of adopted Ukrainians.”

He said that arrival all Ukranian refugees will receive ‘a warm welcome from the local Ukranian community in general with traditional Ukranian food’ .



Zeshan Rehmani will land in Poland tonight

Stephen and Jackie have also been instrumental in bringing PPE from China during the pandemic to assist the NHS during the pandemic.

“We’ve brought about £60,000 worth of PPE into the country,” he said. “PPE is still very much needed by the medical community and I have a car full of it.”



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