Health and Fitness

What actually struck me was the starvation, which I wasn’t anticipating

A couple of weeks in the past, Professor Luke O’Neill and two associates have been sitting in a lodge foyer in Krakow crammed with Ukrainian refugees. A nine-year-old boy joined them on the desk and drew some footage. He drew a map of Ukraine and wrote, on the backside, “Number One Country,” and he drew a map of Ireland and wrote, on the backside, “Friend.”

“It was very emotional,” says O’Neill.

O’Neill was there together with his associates Dr Brian McManus and Fergal Murphy. They had simply pushed a big van filled with medical tools from Ireland to Poland on behalf of a gaggle of Ukrainian docs primarily based in Ireland who run Medical Help Ukraine. The provides have been for Ukrainian docs working within the conflict zone.

Fergal Murphy,Dr Katya Kachurets, Dr Brian McManus, Luke O’Neill and Dr Lyudmyla Zakharchenko.
Fergal Murphy,Dr Katya Kachurets, Dr Brian McManus, Luke O’Neill and Dr Lyudmyla Zakharchenko.

After Poland, O’Neill and his buddy have been as a result of go to Slovakia to see the depot from the place Depaul International transports humanitarian provides into Ukraine. The journey got here out of a dialogue O’Neill had together with his buddy Mark McGreevy, managing director of Depaul International, about how O’Neill might use his profile to attract consideration to the work being executed there. After two years being related to a pandemic, O’Neill was now associating himself with one other disaster. “That’s the worry, that whenever I turn up, people get scared that something is going on.”

That evening in Krakow, O’Neill and his associates additionally met their younger artist buddy’s sister, grandmother and mom, who’s a physician. Currently lots of the refugees are center class individuals who had the sources to go away, though these sources are dwindling. Aid staff have instructed O’Neill that they anticipate that the following wave of refugees might be poorer.

Fergal Murphy, Dr Brian McManus, Dr Lyudmyla Zakharchenko, Dr Katya Kachurets and Luke O’Neill at the Medical Health Ukraine depot for medical supplies near the Polish/Ukrainian border.
Fergal Murphy, Dr Brian McManus, Dr Lyudmyla Zakharchenko, Dr Katya Kachurets and Luke O’Neill on the Medical Health Ukraine depot for medical provides close to the Polish/Ukrainian border.

“This little family… [The mother] knows it’s going to go on for some time and that they need to find somewhere to live, because she was staying in this hotel. Her children needed schooling, just some kind of stability… I asked about Ireland and she said that that was too far… They’d rather stay closer. If they get the chance to go back, they’d jump on it, but their apartment block has been bombed. Their home was destroyed and they left with two or three suitcases.”

For the Ukrainian docs, O’Neill and his associates had been given a purchasing record that included first support kits, tourniquets, bandages, anti-burn hydrogels, sterile burns dressings, gauze, cannulas and emergency foil blankets. They had stuffed the van with the requested objects donated by themselves, Irish pharmacies and hospitals, and with medical provides already collected by Medical Help Ukraine.

‘If the hospitals are bombed meaning no tools… One of them instructed me that every one the HIV meds have run out’

“With food and hygiene, Depaul has a campaign to raise money to buy the stuff locally,” O’Neill explains, “but with medical supplies it’s more complicated. You have to ship it in…. There are no meds going in, no insulin, antibiotics…. If the hospitals are bombed that means no equipment… One of them told me that all the HIV meds have run out. And that’s a real danger, because that means the virus can re-erupt. If you’re a patient with any medical condition, your health is in danger, because you can’t get your meds.”

Bleeding dysfunction

Two of the docs behind Medical Help Ukraine joined them in Poland. One labored as a paediatrician in Holles Street. “She was intent on getting a baby with a extreme bleeding dysfunction out of Ukraine and again to Ireland…. They do that on a regular basis by the best way, there may be a baby in some metropolis who has a extreme illness, and also you carry them to a different metropolis to offer the remedy…. They’ve already acquired youngsters out into Crumlin who’ve childhood leukaemia.

“So there was a child in Kharkiv with a severe bleeding disorder, which she was an expert in. The child was an orphan. So that created problems because, obviously, to get permission was a bit difficult. A lot of paperwork was needed, because there was no parent or guardian there to mind that child. She went to the border and her colleague, who is another Ukrainian doctor, a GP in Tallaght, said to me, ‘I have to stop her crossing the border, because it’s too dangerous.’ I think she went to the border hoping that the paperwork would come in and then she’d travel on. But in the end the paperwork didn’t materialise and they came back into Krakow.”

With Depaul volunteers in the DePaul supply depot in Bratislava, Slovakia.
With Depaul volunteers within the DePaul provide depot in Bratislava, Slovakia.

O’Neill and his associates drove on to Depaul’s depot in Bratislava, Slovakia. Depaul is without doubt one of the few worldwide support businesses at the moment working in Ukraine as a result of they already had a longstanding community of hostels and shelters and employees there. “They realised that their finest exercise can be provides. Normally [their focus] is homelessness, however as a result of that they had all these connections into Ukraine, they mentioned, ‘Let’s organise humanitarian support’…

“We met lots of Depaul workers. Two of them had just come back from the border… And they were telling me about the mayhem… What really struck me was the hunger, which I wasn’t expecting, but all the supply lines are broken into Ukraine. Seven million people are displaced and then four million have got out. The seven million in Ukraine are in huge need, because they have nowhere to live.”

Some of Depaul’s support staff are dealing with their very own traumas. Some had misplaced their very own houses. O’Neill was instructed by one support employee that homeless individuals who Depaul previously helped have been now volunteering and serving to with refugees. “Every time they go in [to Ukraine], they’re frightened they might get hit because the Russians are targeting these convoys. One of their trucks was taken.”

Luke O’Neill with Irish Ambassador to Slovakia Dermot McGauran in the new wing of the Depaul homeless shelter in Bratislava.
Luke O’Neill with Irish Ambassador to Slovakia Dermot McGauran within the new wing of the Depaul homeless shelter in Bratislava.

The Russian military had their very own provide shortages and have been hijacking provide vehicles. “And then the level of human suffering that [the aid workers] are witnessing is huge as well. Talking to them was really sobering.”

‘That a military would invade a rustic in Europe and assault civilians and drop bombs on hospitals, it’s stuff from the second World War’

In each Poland and Slovakia, Ukrainian households – all the time simply girls and kids – have been all over the place. Meanwhile, locals in these nations have been satisfied that Putin wouldn’t be stopping at Ukraine and that they might be subsequent. And but, regular life continued. People have been commuting to work and outlets have been opening and shutting.

“In several countries bordering Ukraine, life is normal, and a couple of hundred kilometres away there are hospitals being bombed… That an army would invade a country in Europe and attack civilians and drop bombs on hospitals, it’s stuff from the second World War… I mean, watching a mother and grandmother and two kids sitting in the lobby of a hotel… Eleven million are displaced from their homes. What have we learned in the past 70 years, really, if this can happen again? Maybe we aren’t as smart as we thought we were.”

Support the Depaul Ukraine Appeal by way of Depaul.ie or by freephoning 1800 856 113.



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