By Theresa Opeka
Doctors, nurses, and other aid workers from North Carolina’s Samaritan’s Purse are lifting off Friday morning from Greensboro headed to Poland to to deploy a field hospital. The humanitarian aid organization based in Boone has been helping in situations like Ukraine for more than 50 years.
Dave Philips, deputy director of international projects, said they were able to get a team together within a few hours of the conflict erupting on Feb. 23. Team members had been monitoring the situation for weeks and were able to land the next day in Poland to do assessments and supplement their work with about 20 people from other countries in the region.
On Friday, March 4, a DC8 cargo aircraft from Greensboro heads to an airport near Krakow, Poland with an emergency field hospital which will eventually be transferred to Ukraine. The unit will have the capacity to treat more than 100 patients each day, and it will be made up of 30 in-patient beds, an operating room, and an intensive care unit.
“We’ll have doctors, nurses, and operations people, as well as the actual facilities, the tents, equipment, and the consumables and medicine,” Philips said. “We’ll be able to set up and provide help in Jesus’ name to people who are being hurt by the conflict.”
Philips said their teams are on the border and see hundreds of thousands of people from Ukraine fleeing their country. “When something like this happens, it is so jarring as human beings to see your town, your community, your home now being enveloped by fighting, he said. “In times like this, we want to show people God’s love and be there to help in Jesus’ name. People are going through something that sometimes is hard for people here in a place like North Carolina can even comprehend.”
They are working with local church partners and have thousands of them in the region who are on the front lines helping meet basic human needs, like items for winter, since it is cold and there is snow on the ground, food, water, and medicine, shelter, diapers, formula, and hygiene items like toothbrushes and soap.
“We have a logistics hub here in North Carolina with our 160,000-foot warehouse where we are able to stock items and in a very short period of time, we can put them onto an airplane and deliver to anywhere in the world,” Philips said. “Right now, that logistics team is working 24 hours a day to prepare and get the airplane packed and get it up in the air so they can get help to people as quickly as possible.”
According to a press release, A 747 cargo plane will depart next week, carrying additional components of the Emergency Field Hospital and the equipment to establish two additional medical clinics. The clinics will be deployed to areas receiving an influx of refugees and will treat minor trauma needs and provide general medical care for some 200 patients each day.
Philips encourages people to go to their website to see how they can help. “The biggest thing we ask for is we ask for people to pray,” he said. “Pray for peace in Ukraine, pray for our staff on the ground who are trying to meet these needs.”
Andrew and Dar Draper, founded the GLOW Mission after hosting a Ukrainian orphan for Christmas 2015. “Our whole family fell in love with him, and it opened our eyes to the orphan crisis,” said Dar. GLOW, which stands for Go Love Others Well, is based in Kannapolis. Draper said there are 100,000 orphans in Ukraine and some of the statistics on them are startling.
“When they age out, between 16 and18 years old, 60% of girls will end up in trafficking and prostitution situations, and 70% of boys will end up incarcerated,” Draper said. “The suicide rate is 15% before they reach 18. The worst statistic to me is the average life expectancy for an orphan in Ukraine or Russia is 30 years old.”
Draper said when they leave the orphanage, they have nothing and there is a stigma associated with them as people in Ukraine don’t want to hire them. “It’s a lot to overcome in a culture that has been overcoming communism for 30 years,” she said. “We started the GLOW mission to help ignite their lives and provide opportunities for them. We treat them like our kids, so it’s personal.” She said she and her husband have been traveling there over the past five years and moved there in June to provide full-time assistance. They did come back to North Carolina at the end of January because their board felt it was too dangerous for them to stay.
Unfortunately, like other news reports, she has gotten horrific accounts of things happening, like the killing of people’s pigs and chickens and stealing of food by Russian soldiers in Chernobyl.
The organization has team members getting some resources to Odessa and Kyiv where they have special connections to warehouses and supplies and funds to children’s hospitals.
Draper said they have been able to get some of the children to neighboring countries like Poland, Romania, Moldova, and Slovakia.
She said she has heard rumors about people talking to those in Congress about bringing refugees here but nothing concrete.
“If we can let people in on our southern border who don’t have anyone to care for them and we have someone to care for them (Ukrainians) here and pay for them, for their transportation, we should be taking those refugees in. They are in much more danger.”
If people would like to donate, they can visit glowmission.org/give or there is a giving button on the website. Funds will be used for evacuations, food, housing, and other ongoing needs. Draper also asks for prayers for Ukrainians and their people.
“There’s a lot to be grateful for,” Draper said tearfully. “We knew this going to Ukraine for so long. Americans are the most benevolent people. There are benevolent people but there isn’t an overall benevolent spirit in Ukraine. So many people truly care. In a crisis, we unify. In this crisis, Americans are unifying.”