For months, Russian forces have attacked Ukrainian towns. Volunteers from all over the world are stepping up to help those in need, including a man from Pocatello.
BOISE, Idaho – For 128 days, Russian forces continued their assault on the country and people of Ukraine. Thousands of people were killed, thousands more were injured.
Survivors across the country are living in a tense reality, with the resources and help needed to carry on. This was made possible by volunteers like Matt Gregson, a medical assistant who calls Pocatello, Idaho home.
“Kind of watching the news and kind of the heartbreaking stories of displaced families from eastern Ukraine and everywhere and just sort of, ‘well, somebody should go help them,'” Gregson said. .
Gregson thought about it and decided he was going to offer to go help. He connected with Utah’s August Mission, a humanitarian-focused nonprofit.
“About two months ago, August Mission contacted me and said, ‘Oh, when can you go?’ I was like, oh, geez, I guess this is real,” Gregson said. “So I’ve been here two and a half weeks, three weeks now.”
Over the past few weeks, Gregson has been working with other volunteers to load resources onto trucks for transport to Ukraine from a warehouse in Poland.
“Load it with some of the relief supplies, food, blankets, bedding, mattresses, etc., and then we crossed the border,” Gregson said.
Gregson describes his first trip to western Ukraine.
“So we walked into Lviv, spent the night there, and then the next day we went to Khmelnytskyi and that’s kind of their hub,” Gregson said. “So we unloaded the trucks at a warehouse there, and then that night they took me to the children’s hospitals, to kind of take a walk and see what their challenges were and what their needs were. ”
From then on, Gregson and his team were mobilized to provide resources to crucial care centers.
“The next day we brought a bunch of supplies to the children’s hospital. The next day I went to a hospice in the small village south of Khmelnytskyi,” Gregson said. “Then the next day a refugee centre, the Catholic Church north of Melbourne. The priest over there is sort of looking after about 300 people and so this group is bringing supplies to them.”
Gregson said the fieldwork is impactful and responsive to those who need drastic help.
“The group discovered a woman, a woman mother who had lost her husband in the front and we went to see a house later that day and about an acre and a half a full garden and the house was only $6,000 ,” Gregson “So they just decided, let’s buy her a house and in about four days they had worked through all the paperwork and gave this lady and her kids a house.”
The scenes we have seen on American television represent only a fraction of reality. An example detailed by Gregson, a hospice taken from a war zone.
“Really hard to watch or watch and try to figure out what they need. Then, just amazing, this young man and his family took care of all those people, with a little help from a few other displaced people from the Khmelnytskyi region. Really heartbreaking,” Gregson said. “So a gentleman, he had both legs, his lower legs were amputated and he had a mat tied over his kneecaps and was dragging himself on his knees with that mat around the establishment. . So, yes, it was difficult.”
The war continues and the people of Ukraine will need significant help for weeks, months and years to come.
“People who are just wonderful. [The] nicest and most appreciative people and they just wanted the Russians to come out and want to go back to their lives and be left alone, but it was interesting to be able to talk to them too,” Gregson said. “They were all very communicative , very , very intelligent and luckily many of them speak very good English. So that facilitated a lot of that communication.
“A lot of these people I talk to have families in the East, families who couldn’t get out. The soldiers who were in Donetsk or in these rotations where they are at the front for a few days, then they come back and then they are fired and again – they just want the Russians out. Who could blame them? They did nothing. »