Summer 2023 – Day Seven: And Total War Meets Total Commitment

We travel to Lviv in western Ukraine. Lviv is far removed from the war zone yet it feels the effects of the war both directly and indirectly. Russian missiles rained down indiscriminately on civilian and military targets at first but last winter the utility system was specifically targeted. Like all of Ukraine, Lviv, its citizens and thousands upon thousands of IDPs struggled on in coldness and dark.

In the city’s warehouse district is an indistinct building is an especially powerful symbol of Ukraine’s resistance to the total war inflicted by Russia. By total war is meant that all of society is targeted not just military facilities.

Mykola Pustovoychenko is a successful technology entrepreneur. His business creating web pages and e-commerce sites affords him both the time and resources to address one of Ukraine’s critical needs – the logistics of getting needed supplies and equipment to where it is needed. Mykola has coordinated with several Rotary Clubs in Wisconsin who collect and ship surplus medical supplies from local hospitals and clinics. He and his volunteer medical professionals then sort the hodgepodge of supplies and ship them on to hospitals, clinics and the military throughout Ukraine.

Mykola rents the space, repackages and ships thousands of items and tons of supplies at his own expense. Total war meets total commitment!
Mykola next takes us to one of the many hospitals he supplies, the Western Ukrainian Specialized Pediatric Medical Center. This center is the Saint Judes Hospital of Ukraine. Children with difficult cancers and other hard to treat conditions come from all over Ukraine to receive state-of-the art care.

It was International Children’s Day and we got to watch young faces brighten as balloons, toys and treats were lovingly distributed by parents and volunteers.

The hospital’s administration and medical staff explained the pre-war mission of the Western Ukrainian Specialized Pediatric Medical Center and how it had to maintain not only that type and level of care (mostly cancer treatment) but also take on a dramatic increase in patient load and many different types of traumas. Pediatric cancer patients from Eastern Ukraine, who can not get their treatments locally due to the war and Russian purposeful targeting of medical facilities, continue to come to Lviv.

Most poignantly we were shown the pediatric hospice center (photo at right). It’s not comfortable to think of palliative care for children. Many things about this war are heart breaking. 94 year old Katya’s story is heart breaking. The young man in Vinnytsia who lost his legs and fingers is heart breaking and these children at the end of life shakes one’s heart to its very core. Yet, the fact that medical staff and volunteers like Mykola step in and commit not from their surplus but from their substance gives one great hope.