Lev Romanyshyn for NP-UN.
For the Ukrainian Canadian Social Services branch in Vancouver (UCSS-V), October and November 2022 brought a few highlights. The branch president, Roman Sawycky, received a You Tube video from his contacts at the Marhanets Hospital (Dnipro Oblast) showing that the truck containing medical supplies that UCSS-V helped to load in August in Chilliwack, BC had arrived safely, and that men and women were unloading the contents and carrying them into the hospital. While the video showed larger items being unloaded from the truck, we heard that nurses were taking off the truck “garbage bags” filled with clean, laundered bed sheets and racing back into the hospital with them. Even items, like bed linens, that seem common and mundane to us, are in short supply in the war zone and the people there are immensely grateful for whatever supplies they can receive: big or small, sophisticated or simple.
Then, on Saturday October 22nd, at the Rotary World Helps warehouse in Coquitlam BC, UCSS-V helped load and seal another shipping container destined for Eastern Ukraine. CITY News Vancouver recorded some of the loading activity and its news report is available at the following webpage: https://vancouver.citynews.ca/2022/10/23/bc-locals-donate-1-million-supplies-to-ukraine/.
According to CITY News Vancouver, the October 22nd load contained over $1 million of medical equipment and supplies, including a unique, “C-Arm” Portable X-Ray machine and a rack of specialized orthopedic supplies, such as screws, plates, rods and fixators. The load also included X-ray monitors, ultrasound machines, hospital beds and wheelchairs.
While UCSS-V has been shipping primarily medical supplies, the October 2022 container is also carrying a unique cargo: approximately 500 donated, hand-sewn, baby quilts, which will be distributed to a number of orphanages in Ukraine.
In November, the container loading continued. On November 4th, UCSS-V loaded and sealed its 21st shipping container, which was also the 6th since the Russians invaded Ukraine. While the container included some equipment which didn’t fit into the October 22nd container (e.g., two “mini” C-arm x-ray machines), this one contained the first tranche of approximately 400 hospital beds and mattresses donated by Fraser Health (the BC health authority for the municipalities of the Fraser River Valley of BC, from Delta in the west to Mission and Hope in the east). As with the August loading, this one was done in conjunction with Rotary World Help and volunteers from the HERO Society (Canadian ex-military personnel).
UCSS-V is planning to load and ship, before the end of the year, one or two more containers filled with the hospital beds and mattresses and other donated equipment and supplies.
UCSS-V president, Roman Sawycky reiterated that, “… while the supplies and equipment are donated by health authorities, hospitals, clinics and individuals, the transportation costs are a cash outlay, now running as much as $15,000 per shipment from Vancouver to Halifax to Poland and then we face considerable difficulty and costs in transporting the supplies by truck to the hospitals and clinics to the war zone in eastern and southern Ukraine. All donations sent to Ukrainian Canadian Social Services – Vancouver will receive a tax receipt. Our address is #246-7610 Evans Road, Chilliwack, BC V2R 2Z5”.