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Americares Ukraine Response Field Team Lead Jake Wheeler oversees Americares shipments of critical medicine and support for local organizations assisting adults and children affected by the war in Ukraine.
From my home and office in Krakow, Poland, I don’t pretend to be close to the hostilities in Ukraine.
But as Americares Field Team Lead, I’m in constant communication with those who are truly on the front lines, which gives me a window into their experiences.
I receive messages every day from doctors, health providers, and first responders in Ukraine and partners in Poland, Romania, and Slovakia telling me what they need to protect and improve the health of people, of the millions at risk right now.
Here are just a few of the communications I received in one day:
“Hello from Sumy. Last night we received very little sleep, with constant air raid sirens alerting us to missiles of various types that were in the airspace. Some broke through to damage energy facilities, but we are operating normally now. We are doing well, don’t worry about us; everybody is safe. We are sending you our kind regards!”
Despite what I can only imagine was an emotionally and physically restless night for him, Vaclav has already provided an updated needs list for our team to review — before I’ve even had my morning coffee. After 12 months, rest remains elusive for our partners, who risk their own safety to serve those in need.
With daybreak comes devastating news from some partners. Thankfully no one was injured in this bombing, but damage to our partner’s hospital and other facilities can significantly impact people’s health.
During the day, more messages arrive – more shipments of critical supplies are reaching partners who are protecting health in Kherson, Dnipro and other cities and regions.
Good news! Other partners received the shipments of exactly the medicine and supplies they requested. In other cases, help is on the way.
“Hey Jake, we received the mobile ultrasound scopes and are using them!”
“We received the woodstoves, thank you, here they are set up in our community health facility. Look and see how they are helpful!”
On my walk home, I send voice notes to partners describing the types of medicine and supplies we currently have in the Americares pipeline. The reality of a tragedy so severe in size and scope is that we can’t meet all the needs of our partners. But the support we do provide is significant, and the way we provide it seems to deeply impact our partners and the communities they serve.
I turn out my lights late into the night, and know that while I sleep, our partners in Ukraine will be assessing needs. I know there will be more lists, sent urgently, no matter how early I log on in the morning.