We are Lesia, a Ukrainian-born UK national with 15 years working in fashion industry and Adam, a UK national with 25 years working as a location photographer. Over the past 16 years we have visited family in Ukraine many times and traveled throughout this rich and varied country. As the horrific news broke of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we decided to leave our home in London and head for the Romanian / Ukrainian border to assist Lesia’s family and as many others fleeing the war in any way we could. We were there for 18 days and directly helped 10 women, children and vulnerable people across the border at Siret and into our rented accommodation in Suceava, north Romania. We also purchased and supplied €12,000 of urgently needed medicine to hospitals inside Ukraine.
Our apartment at Suceava. First eight to stay (from right Galya, Melya, Nastya, Tanya, Marta, Anya, Iryna, Yulia + Lesia and Adam.
Originally, we planned to help Ukrainian refugees by bringing supplies to the border but we saw that there was already an effective team of charities and volunteers in place. We decided a better use of time and resources would be to try to help people inside Ukraine. There are approximately 3 million refugees who desperately need help but what about the 40 million people still inside the country? Many supply lines are cut off and there is an urgent need for life-saving medicines in Ukrainian hospitals. We met UK-based couple, Kate and Petru, also on the ground in Siret / Suceava. They had established a crowdfund and had already done some great work in establishing supply routes into Mechnikov – a major hospital in Dnipro which was treating many casualties. Being in direct contact with medical staff at Mechnikov meant we could respond very quickly to what they needed. We developed a supply network that transported urgently needed medicines from a local wholesaler across the border very quickly and directly into the hands of staff at the hospital.
Load 4 - medicines, torches and power packs in our car and at Mechnikov Hospital, Dnipro
We communicated with family, friends and wider contacts and through their generosity we have so far supplied an additional €12,000 value of medicines including pharmaceuticals, wound treatments, equipment and other essential life supporting meds. Aligned with Kate and Petru’s fund this became a significant contribution to keeping the hospital stocked. It was heartening to see photographs of medicines that we had bought in Suceava in the hands of medics a day or two later in Mechnikov, Dnipro.
Our supply line is very much open. We have a credit line with a wholesale supplier in northern Romania who can deliver direct to a committed transport to Ukraine and from there, be picked up by brave volunteers for onward delivery to the hospitals. These efforts are undertaken voluntarily so all the money donated goes towards medicine for Ukraine. In comparison with large NGOs, our efforts are modest but as a smaller, more agile outfit, we can act very swiftly to needs as they come up.
Load 7 - Two carloads of essential medicine picked up from warehouse, packed and dispatched to Ukraine
Load 7 - medicine arriving at hub in Ukraine and then fast-tracked through by staff and volunteers at Mechnikov Hospital Dnipro
Lesia’s family are from Bucha, just outside Kyiv which has seen some of the worst atrocities of the war so far. Lesia’s sister and her two young daughters were able to escape after the first days of shelling and armed assaults but her parents were among thousands trapped in cellars with minimal supplies and no utilities or communications. This was a harrowing time for the family – we did not know if they were still alive. After two weeks they were able to escape through the brave efforts of Ukrainian volunteers. Sadly, as I write this I think of the millions of Ukranians that are still living through this terror. Arriving at the border we met Petro and Luda with open arms, a generous and dignified couple who had never hurt anybody in their lives and were part of the fabric of their town, now destroyed by the Russian military. We met with journalists and crew from BBC Panorama and World Service who documented our story, in particular the family reunion and accounts that Lesia’s parents brought as civilians living through the terror of the invasion.
The family reunited. Speaking to BBC World Service on 13th March and Lesia's parents, Petro and Luda speaking on 14th March
With Galya and the girls came Tanya and Melya from nearby Irpin, which has also been devastated. They formed a close unit which we will keep together by welcoming Galya and her daughters to our home in London and ensuring that Tanya and Melya are very close so that they have the option to attend school together. We also helped three students, Marta, Yulia Iryna who were in need of logistical support and a place to stay before moving on to Austria and Germany. Our role was also to provide aid and advice to people in various networks and those in need who we met during our time in Suceava and Siret.
Helping us with a medicine supply run and then walking through the late winter snow
Kate and Petru, some of the boys from Sange Pentru and the brave volunteers in Ukraine
We would like to appeal for your help in raising funds to keep this project alive. We will continue to supply Mechnikov Hospital Dnipro. We are also working on a trusted link to supply directly to City Clinical Hospital 10, Kyiv where we have had a request for aid. We do not know for how long transport links will remain viable and so we kindly ask for your support to help to stock these hospitals with urgent life-saving supplies. The brave volunteers will keep working to ensure that medical supplies are delivered as a priority. By making a donation, you will reach out a long arm of support that will make a tangible difference and help the brave people of Ukraine through these dark days. Thank you so much for your consideration and for all the support and kind words we have had. May peace and goodwill prevail. Adam + Lesia
OUR CROWDFUND PAGE: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/medicine-for-ukraine
Here are links to the other organisations whose fantastic efforts have made this possible:
Kate and Petru’s Crowdfund:
North Romanian Charity - experts with transport, logistics and aid
Experienced aid organization operating in Ukraine offering advise and support