Força Ukraine Update- From Ukraine! : March 3rd, 2024

Dear friends –

We’re here! After several days of traveling – about 20 hours of flight/airport time and an equal amount on the train, the team is all consolidated in the Eastern part of Ukraine and ready to start our mission. The time it takes to get here is definitely an impediment, but one the team takes in stride. With no way to fly directly into Ukraine since the start of the war, the best option is to cross the border by land – either in a vehicle or by train. Considering that Ukraine is the second largest country in Europe, it is a time intensive proposition.

Taking the train also adds layers of complexity, moving all our bags along the train station. This time we had a total of 12 bags split between three of us, about 600 pounds of gear. As the line to get into the train station stretched out behind us, we had two thoughts – how are we going to physically move all these bags, and wow, all these people are going to hate us. Once again, we had underestimated the goodness that is a central character trait of every Ukrainian I have ever met. A woman approached us and asked if we needed help – that she could carry one bag for us. But then she went a step further, recruiting several others to carry bags, and move us to the door so we could be first through customs. In the course of our conversation, she told Finch that this was her first time going home since the war started – over two years ago. As our collective consciousness has moved away from Ukraine as the war drags on, there was a mutual respect on the train platform from Ukrainians grateful that someone was still coming, and from our side, for their resiliency and kindness despite all they’ve been through.

The team met up at the train station and then moved to Steve’s apartment where we sorted through all of our gear and redistributed it so that we can not only fit it into two vehicles, but also have it parsed out by training type. We are now fully organized and ready to start training. We also had a chance to do our team pre-brief, one of the things that differentiates us from other organizations in this space. We know that the conditions here on the ground are dynamic, and we do our best to prepare for and mitigate what we can.

As we were going through all of the various bags are repacking, we were all so incredibly grateful – to all be together again, to have the chance to provide this training, and for your belief in us, which allowed us to acquire what we need to conduct the best training with the right gear. We were surrounded by donated equipment and by medical gear that we were able to purchase thanks to you. We will go see our friends at Dnipro Tourniquet tomorrow and pick up our order of 200 lifesaving Dnipro tourniquets – again, that entire purchase made possible thanks to your belief in us.

We will likely not send an update for several days due to our training location and limited internet access, but as always from all of us here, we are so indebted to you for giving us this opportunity.

In gratitude – Mike

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