Whitehorse Daily Star: Yukon volunteers accompanied medical
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Whitehorse Daily Star: Yukon volunteers accompanied medical

May 16, 2023

Ed. note: the second and third parts of this three-part series will be published next Monday 
and Wednesday.

By Cassidy Bronson on August 4, 2023

Ed. note: the second and third parts of this three-part series will be published next Monday 
and Wednesday.

On June 15, Yukoners Donna Reimchen and Lesia Hnatiw embarked on a trip to Ukraine on behalf of the UCAY (Ukrainian Canadian Association of Yukon) to accompany the delivery of humanitarian supplies to the Yuzhnoukrainsk municipal hospital in south-central Ukraine.

The pair didn’t arrive in Ukraine until June 20 due to travel time.

Reimchen said the primary goal was to bring the supplies and clear them through the borders, as bringing medications and antibiotics can be difficult.

“I think where people get in trouble and maybe where resources are not allocated effectively is if people go without a plan,” she said.

“In our case, for these antibiotics, they needed to be taken in person. They could not have been shipped from Canada,” Reimchen said.

“Our agreements specified that we had to escort them because they’re highly valuable. Like, if they fall into the wrong hands, they’d get sold on the black market. They’d never get where they’re supposed to go,” Reimchen added.

“We knew getting them across the border into Ukraine was critical,” she said.

Hnatiw and Reimchen said the humanitarian supplies were procured from an NGO in Canada called Health Partners International Canada (HPIC).

“They’re a fabulous, amazing organization because they have helped many different non-profits to take medicines to all parts of the world. So that’s who we were working with. We partnered with them,” Hnatiw said.

The supplies, packed into 14 suitcases, included:

antibiotics donated from Canadian pharma companies;

patient monitors, thermometers, and other medical equipment donated by the Yukon government;

iPads, laptops, cell phones, and other tech gear for military use donated by Yukoners and other people;


over 100 combat tourniquets;

over-the-counter medication such as Advil;

water purification tablets donated by Coast Mountain; and

donated wool socks.

There was also about $10,000 in cash donated from the Yukon to purchase hospital equipment for the Yuzhnoukrainsk municipal hospital in Ukraine.

Reimchen said the antibiotics they brought filled about three quarters of the suitcases and the quantity will be enough to supply the Yuzhnoukrainsk municipal hospital for two thirds of the year.

She said the municipal hospital is woefully short of funding, but by bringing a large quantity of the antibiotics, they can allocate their limited funds to other things instead of this medicine.

“And because the antibiotics, we could procure them for such a nominal cost here, we were able to bring about $10,000 of donated funds from here in cash to Ukraine and purchase hospital equipment for that hospital there,” she said.

“Serhii Lupov and Maksym Berezovyy, the two hospital directors, worked really hard to optimize how that money was spent and to maximize what they could get for it.

“Which was also really good to see because they were careful with how they spent the money. You know, looking for the best prices just to maximize the value for it.”

She also said the military always needs more electronics, and that the donated electronic devices went to military frontline units, where the military will tie things like phones to drones and use them to take videos of the Russians.

Hnatiw said the over-the-counter medication and pain medication like Advil are important, as people possibly don’t realize that the soldiers get sick too.

“They need Advil and stuff for their stomachs and things like that. And so just simple things that we sort of take for granted here are really important for them there,” she said.

After the destruction to the Kakhovka dam in early June, Hnatiw said, major flooding occurred, which led to a lot of problems with contaminated water.

She said the donated water purification tablets were really important.

“So it’s really quite amazing to think that these water purification tablets from Coast Mountain are helping to save lives,” she said.

“You know, in Ukraine, they’re providing help to have safe drinking water like when you make that connection; I don’t know, it takes me aback,” said Hnatiw.

“You know, I think, ‘Wow, we’re a small community, but we’re actually making an impact.’ You know, it might seem like a small deal, but it’s actually not because I often kind of think of it as a ripple effect,” said Hnatiw.

She said helping numerous people is amazing because of the effect it has on them and their families.

“We are seeing the direct delivery of items, like we directly delivered the medical supplies, antibiotics and equipment to the hospital. So we are seeing that it is getting there.

“And also the military supplies are getting directly to the military to the front. And so it’s like we’re seeing the direct results of our work here, you know, like our organization (UCAY) and the donations of people here in the Yukon,” Hnatiw told the Star.

If the situation had changed and it had become unsafe to travel to Yuzhnoukrainsk, Reimchen said, they would have figured out a way to ship the supplies.

“But I’m so thankful we’re able to actually travel there and spend those days together because it’s just reinforced that personal connection,” she said.

“Like, they told us like they feel like we’re family now. I feel relationships get forged really fast, really intensely when you’re in crisis.

“And like I said, I mean, the stuff we brought, it’s important, but the impact of all the people who ended up knowing what we were doing, I think, has ramifications that go so much farther,” she added.

Cassidy BronsonAugust 4, 2023Ed. note: the second and third parts of this three-part series will be published next Monday 
and Wednesday.