Força Ukraine Update- POLAND Edition! : March 2nd, 2024

Dear friends –

After a few slight hiccups, the team arrived safely in Poland last night. Various issues that could have come to fruition – like the threatened ground crew strike in Germany – did not, and other unforeseen issues – missing our connection, did. At the end of the day though, the most important things did happen – the team is all here, and so is all of our gear! It was a huge relief to see all 14 bags come off the luggage carousel. We walked right out of the Krakow airport and were able to overload two Polish cabs and get to the hotel for some much-needed rest.

The US-based team will depart today on the overnight train into Ukraine. My parents – we are a true family here at Força! – who helped us carry bags, will split off for their own European adventure. The entire training team will consolidate tomorrow, meet with our friends at Dnipro Tourniquet the next morning and training will begin! Thanks to your generous donation, we have 200 Dnipro Tourniquets waiting for us, as well as the same quantity of trauma bandages, shears, and gauze, All of those items will be donated in the first half of our trip, and we will restock in the middle. We also received some additional training equipment purchased in Ukraine. Thanks to our established relationship with a local company, they not only sent us some of their inventory, but also some models to field test for them in exchange for feedback. We are so grateful for all of the relationships we have developed in this work – and for having the means to support the local economy.

I have attached some pictures of the early part of the trip – a huge thanks to Emily’s Dad (again, a family affair here), who gave us – and all of our bags – a ride to the airport. Frankfurt from the air – we were all glad to leave after our extended delay – and then Krakow last night when I took my usual first night in Poland walk. It always helps with the jetlag and for me, it is a reminder of where we are and why we are here. I joke with the team that for me, the hard part is over. Now I turn over the work of training to them while I stand around with one hand in my pocket and another holding a cup of coffee.

Sadly, we all know the situation in Ukraine is deteriorating and the work we do is more critical than ever. We struggle sometimes wondering if our small effort moves the needle at all in the vastness that is this war. We often discuss the parable of the starfish (or sand dollar) and the man throwing them back in the ocean to try to save the ones he can. When asked about the futility of trying to save them all and not making a difference, he responds that his actions mattered to the ones he did save. We also have shared and discussed Admiral McRaven’s UT commencement speech, where he makes the point that, when we influence one life, it has a ripple effect that we will never likely see first hand. Your support of our work is the first step in that chain. You have influenced our lives, given us the chance to provide training and equipment that we know has saved lives. For $15 I can purchase a tourniquet and put it in the hands of someone who could use it to save a life – a life that then continues, goes home to a family, endures. Thank you for being the first step in that chain – your actions have ripple effects across the world.

On behalf of all of us here in Poland, our team in Ukraine, soon to be all together, I thank you. Every time we do this, I am humbled that you believe in us, just a small group of individuals committed to doing what we can.

With my deepest gratitude – Mike

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