In August, volunteers of the Ivano-Frankivsk Center #SaveUkraineNow(SUN) received a large batch of medical supplies from the church community of St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church from the USA, and recently, military first-aid kits for our defenders also arrived from overseas. We spoke with the rector of the church, Father Mykhailo Myshchuk, about how the Church became a center of aid to Ukraine.
– Father Mykhailo, tell me more about your church?
From February 24, the Ukrainian church of St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church became the center for collecting and coordinating humanitarian aid for Ukraine. We are located in Watervliet, Albany County, New York. Our church community has about 300 parishioners, and in general, the Ukrainian community of our Albany District is about 700 people.
Father Mykhailo Myshchuk
– What kind of aid are you sending to Ukraine? What are you focusing on?
At first, we collected clothes, food, and household items. Later they realized that it is easier and cheaper to bring these things from Europe. So they chose what is more expensive and very difficult to find in Ukraine – these are medicines for hospitals, medical supplies for refugees, and especially – hemostatic and military first-aid kits for defenders.
In total, since February, we have transferred about 60 tons of various medical aid, and we continue our work.
– Can you tell us what difficulties you faced in your charity work?
At the beginning, there were many difficulties with the organization and logistics of our work. The most difficult thing was to order medical products, which are not easy to find not only in Ukraine, but also in the USA, especially hemostatic products.
We learned to assemble military first-aid kits ourselves in order to reduce their cost. The persistence of our volunteers and personal contacts work well here, thanks to which you can get what you need in a short time.
The second problem is the general exhaustion of donors, especially financial ones. If at the beginning of spring, we needed a week or a half to collect the aid truck. Now it can take four months.
But we are not stopping, we are planning charity fairs to attract funds.
The volunteer center and its employees
– Tell us a little about your volunteers?
Everyone helps in one way or another. Adults and children, newcomers and those born in the USA join. I would like to note the extraordinary openness, generosity, and desire to help on the part of the Americans. Thanks to their sacrifice, we were able to do so much for our Ukraine. Americans of different nationalities and religions, different races and languages sincerely want our victory, are proud of the endurance of our defenders and pray and work for Ukraine to defeat the aggressor.
For many of us, helping Ukraine is a family affair. For example, my brother Taras Myshchuk deals with the search, procurement and delivery of medical products to Ukraine. I would also like to mention several natives of Frankivsk region. Dr. Ivan Shvachuk organized a lot of help for hospitals in Ivano-Frankivsk and on the front lines. And Olya Oliynyk, a young girl who came to America as a child, and today works tirelessly to collect goods and finances. And, of course, I want to thank our volunteers who joined this noble work.
A team of volunteers
– How do you choose whom to help?
At first, we sent aid to large humanitarian hubs in Lviv and other cities. Then they began to cooperate with medical institutions, public and charitable organizations. The Military Chaplaincy Center of the UGCC (Lviv) was supported. We determine whom to help together. It happens in different ways – often these are personal, friendly or family contacts. For example, we got to know the #SaveUkraineNow Coordination Center thanks to the recommendation of our parishioners from Ivano-Frankivsk.
– What kind of help did your church give to #SaveUkraineNow volunteers?
In August, we shipped 1,000 decompression needles, 200 Celox Rapid hemostatics, 600 nasopharyngeal tubes, 760 QuikClot hemostatics, and 300 tourniquets. We hear very positive feedback from military medics. This aid is already on the front lines helping to save lives. And recently, we handed over 264 tactical military first aid kits to IFAK.