A former Australian soldier stationed near the frontline in Ukraine has used his expertise to train Ukrainian fighters to disarm and remove deadly land mines and traps.
Nathan Rompa, 29, traveled from his home in Hobart to war-torn Ukraine a month ago to assist with humanitarian relief.
The former ADF soldier served in Afghanistan and was a specialist in explosive ordnance disposal.
He has joined a team of ex-military engineers in Ukraine who are disarming and clearing mines, traps and explosives across the country.
“We are working directly with the police, who have largely taken on the role of the Ordnance Disposal Service,” said Mr Rompa. the Mercury from Ukraine.
He explained that the explosives team in Ukraine had already removed “tons of unexploded ordnance” before arriving in the country.
Mr Rompa’s team was asked by the “chief of police” to train “nearly 700 soldiers” who will go to the front line to fight the Russian army.
“We are conducting mine awareness training to give these guys a chance to fight against an extremely dangerous threat,” the former soldier continued.
“After we complete this training, our team will immediately go back into the field, travel across the country to the affected areas and begin more clean-up operations.”
Mr Rompa’s travel, equipment, accommodation and other expenses have come out of his own pocket.
He wanted to help long before Ukraine was first invaded by Russia in February.
He has a Paypal account to fund humanitarian efforts.
Mr Rompa served in the defense force for four years, including a stint in Afghanistan, and is now an aid worker for people with disabilities.
He admitted his family was proud of his mission but heartbroken that he would risk his life again.
“It’s heartbreaking to see Nathan leave and sacrifice his own life and time away from his family and friends to keep the people of Ukraine safe, but we still want to be able to support him,” Rompa’s sister Kate wrote on a GoFundMe to raise money for his trip.
“Without people like this team of engineers finding these devices, they could go off at any time, even years away, and will affect families in Ukraine for years to come.”
The family set up a fundraiser to fund his trip and the group’s efforts in Ukraine.
Unfortunately, the $6000 raised could not be delivered to Mr. Rompa abroad due to a terms of service issue.
The Paypal account appears to have been created in response to the fundraiser issues.
Mr Rompa plans to stay in Ukraine for the next three months.