On March 3rd I was on my way to Poland with two suitcases full of life-saving medicine to be delivered immediately to hospitals in Ukraine.
Upon arriving in Poland, I set out for Lviv to provide humanitarian aid. I crossed the Polish-Ukrainian border in Hrebenne, and have done so many times in 10 months’ period since the start of the war – each time I was bringing support for those who needed it.
On 15 of March together with my friend Aldona Wkleklak I was crossing the border and bringing two sick kids from the Lviv Hospital. The day was very traumatic because two missiles hit nearby killing a number of people. This is not phase me and I continued to past the border going went directly to the hospital. After dropping off the much needed medicine, I planned to offer in transporting young sick children back to safety in Poland. One of the sick boys went through surgery the very next day at Children’s Memorial Health Institute. Already in his short life, this child had over thirty surgeries in his life. Despite his lot in life, he smiled all the way to the hospital in Warsaw – he is my hero!
After my first trip to Ukraine I stayed involved and facilitated communication between children’s oncology hospitals in Ukraine and the United States. These children, having left war torn Ukraine find safety in Poland but I hoped for the chance to bring some of them to the US for treatment.
In the meantime, I was involved getting life-saving medicine for a five-year-old Ukrainian girl who suffers from a rare form of cancer and had found shelter in Poland. Together with my friend, Izabela Marczak, who a licensed doctor in Poland and others in the U.S., we were able to overcome a number of obstacles and get this young girl lifesaving medicine delivered right to her.
All the time I did this as a volunteer for the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation and Commiunity Help Organization.
On March 25 I arrived at a charity called the City of Goodness for the first time. Before the Russian invasion, the charity operated a home for women and children who suffered from domestic violence, but now the home has also become a shelter for 65 orphans from Mykolaiv. The orphans were placed a smaller building on the campus. Like others being taken care of by the charity, these orphans also needed particular care: twenty-seven were bottle-fed and seven have special needs. Four of them are still in the local hospital from being sick after staying in a bomb shelter for four days during the bombing. Those children are age of 0-4.
I immediately fell in love with these children, spending my time taking care of them. I fed them, changed their diapers, bathed them, checked their temperature, and played with them. During the first air raid alert while I was at the orphanage I quickly found out there was no bomb shelter for them. I learned from the founder of City of Goodness, Marta Levchenko, that there was a plan to build another building with better protection. That would have at least helped but it was not enough! I decided to get involved in the project and made sure the new building would provide an adequate bomb shelter for “our” kids. I was able to get the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation to support that construction and two more.
Since then, I have taken many trips between US, Poland, and Ukraine and witnessed what was happening with construction during the war and keep raising funds for the City of Goodness. Now the orphanage’s new building is finished, and the little orphaned children from Odessa, at the least, have a new place to call home. Great lengths were taken to make sure the new building and the bomb shelter were warm and welcoming to the children – many of whom lost their parents as a result of this dreadful war. The new building, with its three floors and complete shelter looks more like a whimsical playground than anything else. The City of Goodness hopes to make the same necessary improvements to another home they run in the city.
All of this was made possible by the kind generosity of organizations like the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation. A certain necessity in a time where children are unfortunately the target of drone, mortar, and missile attacks.
On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine and next day together with Zorina Kramarenko, I started a fundraiser to support the City of Goodness foundation. Thanks to those funds, among other things, together with the Community Help Organization, associate program of the Polish American Foundation of Connecticut, we shipped 22 pallets with humanitarian aid and 3 pallets to Lviv. I went as part of many humanitarian aid missions to Makariv, Andriivka, Borodyanka, Bucha, Irpin, Brovary, Zhytomyr region, Gostomel, Chernihiv, Dytyatky, Vorzel, Kiev, White Tserkva, Fenevychi, Vorzel, Sukachi, Chernivsi and Mykolaiv regions. I also participated in bringing ambulances from Kosice to Kyiv, a mission made possible by the nonprofit Ukrainian Friends.
On November 15, Russia launched a massive attack on Ukrainian infrastructure and millions are without power, heat or warm food. I was there at the time. Some of “our” kids depend on power for medical devices due to their illnesses. The next day, together with the founder of the center, we brought two little children to the City of Goodness. One of whose father died the day before from a landmine explosion. I was holding the four month old in my arms all the way and his brother was watching me all the time. My eyes are full of tears each time when I think about it.
The City of Goodness is in dire need of many things because every day more orphans are coming. As the world mourns the unconscionable invasion of Ukraine, Community Help Organization seeks to help Ukrainian children to build a rehabilitation home for them in the City of Goodness. I pledged my support to those little children of that war and hope you do as well!
We kindly ask for your help. Your contribution will make an impact, whether you donate $5 or $500. Every little bit helps. Thank you for your support!