HELENA — About a month ago, the non-profit Hands on Global sent its first team to Ukraine to offer basic healthcare to Ukrainians affected by the war. Executive Director Valerie Hellerman sat down to tell MTN more about what they experienced and what they plan to continue to do.
“It is hell. Yeah, war is hell,” says Hellermann.
After 28 days of helping Ukrainians, Valerie Hellermann is back home in Helena. She was part of the first team of humanitarian workers of the non-profit Hands on Global, to head to Ukraine to provide basic healthcare to those affected by the war.
Hellermann’s team of healthcare professionals crossed the Romanian border into western Ukraine, offering help like providing medication for chronic conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, and thyroid issues.
Hellermann says that, from what she could tell, Hands on Global was the only non-governmental organization that was actually going into the government-provided shelters and setting up a clinic, instead of making the people come to them.
With the threat of war looming around the corner, the Hands On Global team were constantly reminded of the death and destruction just miles away.
“We would be in a clinic and somebody would, we'd hear the air raid sirens, and somebody would come in and say, ‘You know, you need to go down to the bomb shelter,’ And we would just drop everything and go to the bomb shelter. And sometimes we would be there for three hours,” says Hellermann.
Hellermann says that they only allow their members to help in such conflict zones for a maximum of 28 days because of the high amounts of stress. So, in order to be a constant helping presence, they have staggered teams that overlap by a week. Currently, the second team is in Ukraine. The plan is to keep teams in the area through the end of May. And ideally, if peace is reached, they will send a different kind of team to help with frontline injuries.
“...we’ll bring some trauma surgeons, some plastic surgeons, orthopedic surgeons, and we'll work on mental health care and rehabilitation. There's a lot of very terrible injuries...” says Hellermann.
If you would like to donate to Hands on Global you can visit this link: http://handsonglobal.org/donate/