When Milos Pospisil returned to the Sunshine Coast from a support mission in Poland, he already knew he wanted to go back to help Ukrainians even more. Now, the Gibsons resident is planning a second trip at the end of June, and this one will bring him — and some much-needed medical supplies — directly to Kyiv.
In March, Pospisil left his home in Gibsons to spend two weeks evacuating seven Ukrainian families from the Ukrainian-Polish border to safety. While in Poland, he also helped build a children’s play and baby care area as he brought supplies to two refugee centres.
Now, he’s planning to return — this time with Project Volya (volya means freedom), started by retired Canadian reservist Kevin Leach who is living in Kyiv. Project Volya has been filing a gap by coordinating donations of medical supplies to the frontlines of the Ukrainian forces. Small items like tourniquets, hemostatic gauze and chest seals that have the ability to save lives.
Joining Pospisil’s fundraising and coordination efforts is Dr. Paul Dhillon of Sechelt. The two men have mutual friends going back 20 years, but it wasn’t until they both moved to the Sunshine Coast that they met. Dhillon and his wife were looking for ways to donate and help Ukrainians and it was “fortuitous”, Dhillon said, when he began hearing of Leach and Pospisil’s separate efforts and was able to connect the two. Dhillon is also part of Canada’s Men’s Medical Soccer Team, who regularly play against a team of Ukrainian physicians. Those physicians began asking for help accessing medical supplies.
Between Dhillon’s medical contacts and Leach’s local connections in Ukraine and list of needed supplies, Pospisil will be able to transport the supplies to where it’s needed most.
One of the biggest challenges is getting up-to-date information, knowing what’s actually needed, and coordinating delivery, Dhillon said. Pospisil going in person is a huge risk, but the connections he can build are crucial.
“In addition to the financial, monetary [support] and the actual equipment that goes, there's that kind of human bond that ‘We're not being forgotten here and people in this little tiny corner of B.C. are still supporting us.’ So, I think there's a morale and a moral benefit to the trip,” Dhillon said.
In March, Pospisil raised more than $9,000 for his first initiative, and the two Coasters are now aspiring to raise $20,000 for Project Volya through their GoFundMe “Helping Ukrainian Children & Medical Supplies”.
Pospisil will travel with the medical supplies to ensure it makes it to its destination. Last time, Pospisil spent his time near the Ukrainian border, but this trip he will meet Leach in Kyiv.
He also has another objective: to bring joy to the children of Ukraine. A key focus for him is bringing care packages of toys, crayons and colouring books to the kids, and, at the suggestion of Leach, information about avoiding unexploded objects and mines.
For the kids, Pospisil hopes “just to remove them from the horror of it all and ease the trauma a little bit.”
“I just need to find a way to keep helping as much as possible… have real impact and these life-saving medical supplies, in combination with bringing some happiness to the kids there, I think that's well worth the risk.”