Questions by Selina Wells
S: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and the campaign you started for Ukraine?
J: I am a recently separated US Army Veteran, and I have been in Europe for the last 4 years. I was a part of several different Information Channels on Telegram and watched the invasion happen live. My wife and I knew that Ukraine would need medical supplies and humanitarian aid. So, we began to post about accepting donations, and we got in touch with our network of contacts in the medical field to see what we could gather. We gathered over $70,000 in medical supplies, and tons of humanitarian supplies such as blankets, food for animals, pet carriers, sleeping bags, etc. We rented a van and drove to the Polish-Ukrainian border, which took about 16 hours. We arrived on Day 4 of the invasion. After the first trip of supplies was given to my contacts in Ukraine, we returned home. But I felt a calling to return, so I washed my clothes, repacked my bag and basically caught an Uber back to the border. I have been volunteering in Ukraine for over a month now.
S: What makes your mission different from others on GoFundMe?
J: I’ve seen a lot of GoFundMe’s popping up, and I have seen a lot of volunteers and NGOs out here working. By no means am I the only one doing good work. But I have an open line of communication with individuals fighting on the front line and working in the hospitals near the front line. They send me lists of items they request, and I get the donated supplies to them directly. I am even helping to transport supplies that others have donated (but I do not post pictures of these supplies, as they aren’t mine to claim). As I type this, my vehicle is parked downstairs in Warsaw, Poland. Every spare inch of the room inside is filled with equipment and supplies, and even strapped to the roof.
S: Where can our audience donate?
S: How would the donations be spent?
J: Donations are spent strictly on medical supplies, shipping costs, fuel costs, and rarely on lodging (I usually have a free space to sleep minus a shower). All of my food and other needs are self-funded.
S: What can you tell us of your experience during the war?
J: This is the hardest question to answer. The invasion has been going on for just over a month, but it feels like years already. During war, time seems to work in a different way than usual. Most of the time, I have no idea what day it is. I’m only aware if it’s day or night. I’m not sure what people see on the news or on television, but what I see here has two sides.
On one side, I see pain, fear, and suffering. Families have been destroyed or, at best, separated. Many of the soldiers I meet have only been soldiers for a month. Before the invasion they were students, bankers, or lawyers. Many of them fear for their future.
But the other side is the fierce determination to protect their country, their families, and their way of life. They are still able to smile, to joke, and to enjoy life despite the threat of the unknown.
S: Is there anything else you’d like to tell our audience?
J: I would just like to encourage everyone to be informed about this war. Inform yourselves about the effects of the war, the loss of life, and the need for aid. Many countries, organizations, and individuals have been helping, but it is just a drop in the bucket, and the aid is slowing down severely.