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Poland/Ukraine Medical Mission Journal

(...to the second set of updates starting Sunday, May 8th!)

Yuliya Perepelitsa, MD
Medical Missionary
Eau Claire / Minneapolis / Ukraine

Hello! In May 2022 I served on a medical mission trip in Poland, providing medical supplies and care to Ukrainian refugees there. Thank you for your prayers and support for my home country and its people. I believe that God is at work even during this conflict to bring more and more people into relationship with Him. Below is a journal I'm kept while in Poland. Please note that taking photos of the refugees is not allowed, unless permission is asked. So that is why you will not see many refugees in these photos. Thank you! -- Dr. Yuliya Perepelitsa

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” - Romans 12:21 (ESV)

Monday, May 2nd, 2022

Family finished packing up the bags with the donated medications the night before I left for Poland. It was fun for everyone to be together, to go through the medications. We were all so excited about all the useful things that will be added to the volunteer pharmacy.

Prayer of Thankfulness: For my family – who organized meds, got extra needed medications, made sure there were bags big enough to fit everything, packed the bags, wrapped them…all of it!

Tuesday, May 3rd

The bags really stood out at the airport. Mostly people read the labels and smiled, one lady in line shared some encouraging and supportive words.

Prayer of Thankfulness: Thankful for a safe flight!

The plane from Minneapolis to Paris was 45 min early and I had about a 2 hr layover in Paris. Unfortunately, there were long lines and delays in Paris, many people missed their connecting flight. Once I ran to the gate to Poland, they were calling the “final boarding call” and closed the door right after me! Also, thankful for Lowell Munz from Jacobs Well, who coordinated with the news in Eau Claire to further spread the word of our mission - would not have been possible if the journalists were just trying to connect with me.

Wednesday, May 4th

There are several of these signs at the Polish airport - they read “We are with you” on the background of a blue sky above a yellow wheat field. (Meaning of the Ukrainian flag).

First impressions after stepping off the plane was how warm, sunny, and beautiful it was in Poland - spring in full bloom. The airport was nice and clean. Everything and everyone seemed calm and relaxed even in the airport hussle - more of the European pace of life.

That first night, we unpacked the bags with the medications - figured out what was staying in the clinic and what was going to the hospitals in Ukraine. The supplies for the hospital were driven to Ukraine that night! This organization believes that getting things directly into the hands of the doctors and nurses that need the supplies is the best way to be useful!

I’ll be volunteering with Global Disaster Relief Team (GDRT) - an organization that started in NJ at the start of the war in Ukraine. A few people just flew to Poland, drove to the Ukrainian/Polish border and started helping right away. Now they have two vans and volunteers coming to help for 2-3 weeks at a time.

Prayer Request Pray for the GDRT team. From what I can tell, many do not know Jesus personally. A group of very hard working, passionate, loving, smart people. Pray that they would see Jesus in me, maybe this will all lead to friendships and good conversations.

Thursday, May 5th

First full day of work!

The refugee center is located in the town of Przemysl, Poland. A mall that was no longer in use due to Covid shutdowns has been converted into a refugee center.

First thing you notice is lots of people in bright yellow jackets, these are the volunteers. Every volunteer has their name and the languages that they speak on the jackets.

So many volunteers from all over the world. Many countries are represented... many people from the United States. Some are Ukrainian, Russian-Jewish people that now live outside the US. There is even a tent serving Pizza from Italy! World Central Kitchen is doing an amazing job providing really healthy and quality meals. Volunteers are cleaning, cooking, organizing, sorting supplies, and playing with children. Polish police are on site along with soldiers from the Polish army. Everyone has to register with their passport, you are given a badge and a wristband and volunteers from the Polish army scan everyone every time you enter and exit. Refugees have a different entrance.

I was told that there were close to 1,000 refugees the first day I was there. There were probably less that first day, but every day, people came and went. Hundreds of refugees cycle through every day.

If you imagine a standard mall that has one central hallway that makes an oval inside and shops on both sides…that’s what it is. Now instead of shops, there are big rooms that were turned into sleeping areas, information rooms, a kids playroom, two clinics… World Central Kitchen in what used to be the food court. Outside buses drop off people, everyone is registered, you get a free SIM card and a simple phone if needed (most younger people have their smartphones). Only mothers with children, older people, people with disabilities are allowed through to the border.

If people come at night or if they do not know what country they will go to, they stay in this large room. Here they can get hygiene items, clothing, diapers and baby food. There is also a special section of the room that is a little bit more private for people with disabilities. Lots of amputations due to diabetes in Ukraine. There is also a seperate room for mothers and children who do not feel comfortable staying in the general room. The lights are on all the time in this general room, for safety and also to encourage people to try to pick a country to go to.

Then you start going around to different rooms/booths with volunteers from different countries that are taking in refugees... Finland, Germany, Spain, Norway, England, Denmark…  People are provided with information about the county, what to expect, what the country is offering/how they are helping. Once you make a decision, you are registered to go on the bus, and once a bus fills up, you are taken to that destination. All this is done by volunteers, the buses are free. I translated for a man from Germany who was helping a Ukrainian woman and gave her his Ukrainian’s wife's phone number in Germany to call if needed. Everyone is very kind.

Prayer Request: Pray for the volunteers from all these countries offering aid, organizing, answering the same questions over and over again, bringing hope to people who are lost and tired. None of this is done through the government, it’s literally people gathering from a country and volunteering, providing information, free bus rides, helping with the registration process to get the legal protective status, aid in their country.

Friday, May 6th

This is what people see when they come across our clinic.  People see the sign that reads “Free Medications” and people waiting to help. Some examples of things we are able to help with:

  • Headaches, motion sickness
  • Acid reflux, n/v/d, “upset stomach” kind of complaints
  • Symptomatic relief for common cold, sore throat, cough
  • Allergies, asthma
  • Arthritis pain
  • Lots of stress, insomnia
  • People running out of blood pressure, diabetic medications
  • Lots of cultural medical things, things are difficult to explain, sometimes frustrating to deal with as a physician, but probably the most unique and sometimes funny situations :)

In addition to the medical questions, once people realize that you speak Ukrainian, they ask all kinds of questions. Most of them need translation or helping them find a volunteer responsible for a certain task.

A box of chocolates from a man who was so happy to have a month's supply of medications :)

Payer Request: People are scared that they will not have access to healthcare. From my understanding, all these European countries that are accepting them for the short term will help them with healthcare - which is amazing. Prayer of thankfulness for all the medical teams that will be taking care of Ukrainian refugees and also a prayer of patience and understanding for both sides as everyone learns a new culture.

Saturday, May 7th

Today was the busiest day. Most of the same, at a much faster speed. The US army was on site today. Young guys, many probably between 18-21 y.o. It was such a “proud to be an American moment”, they were so hand working – cleaning, organizing, playing with children, walking around to see how they could help!

Prayer Request: Pray for the U.S army, the Ukrainian army, police, firefighters… to be brave, wise, to stay strong mentally and physically.

Sunday, May 8th

Day OFF!

I started in the morning and walked along the road to a coffee shop. It was good to have a day off. =)

Monday, May 9th 

I met a doctor from Massachusetts.

He delivered “phototherapy bili-huts” for treating jaundice. He was met at the airport, the beds were picked up and delivered straight to a hospital in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine. These beds were right away in basements in the hospital where babies were located for safety. 

Tuesday, May 11th

From my friend “Misha Kryshka” one of the coordinators that came back to Ukraine during my last week and worked with the children: 

“People who come through the shelter stay there for a few days up to a few weeks. When you're there everyday, these people become your friends and family. You look forward to seeing them, you hear their stories, they come and find you to give you life updates, and you truly enjoy one another's company. These are strong, resilient, beautiful people.” 

This is true–there were people who were staying at the shelter longer and came to the clinic daily. There was an older lady who had a stroke and was found hiding in a farm field in Ukraine. She was extremely sick during the first few days at the shelter and had many deficits from the stroke. Everyday, we watched her get better and better. She walked the halls non-stop determined to get stronger. It was really hard to find a permanent living place for her, but by the end of the two weeks she was able to use all four limbs well and only had a slight sleep difficulty. She was still at the shelter when I left and I often wonder where she is now. 

Thursday, May 12th

A few of the days, I worked evenings. Shift ended at 12:00 am - so later towards the night, when the halls were empty I walked around the center and took photos. 

Friday, May 13th 

There was also a team who made trips to Ukrainian hospitals to deliver supplies. I had the pleasure of meeting these brave paramedics! 

I met a paramedic from Minnesota, Sergey Karachents. He made several trips to Ukraine. This is a little bit of his experience driving supplies into Ukraine: 

“Most gas stations did not have any fuel at all, a few were designated for military/emergency vehicles, and the occasional ones had gas/diesel for the public. Even at those, the lines stretched 50 cars long, and still each car was given only up to 10 Liters of fuel.

My partner Len Fromzel and I loaded up our little Fiat with 100 liters of diesel and prepared to make the 12 hour drive across most of Ukraine to Odessa. Still, for the sake gas economy we had to drive quite slowly (to my great frustration).

We made it uneventfully to Odessa and made a stop at the Odessa National Medical University, and then continued to meet with Irina Nazarova and several volunteer colleague surgeons.

As we unpacked our bags from America, I don't think I've ever seen surgeons happier than these guys, and from what seemed like the simplest supplies. They were ecstatic to find central lines, sutures, staplers...all things they were critically short on, treating the endless patients from Mariupol and Nikolaev”.

Saturday, May 14th

This was a very special day. Work days were getting more challenging emotionally and there has not been too many spiritually uplifting events. Imagine my joy when I heard “Days of Elijah” in English. I went to see what was going on and met a group who were singing joyfully! Very special! 

Link to video of a song in Ukrainian:

Powerful example of people from all over the world supporting Ukrainians! Christian missionaries from South Korea, serving in Poland, giving glory to Jesus in Ukrainian!

Ісусу слава, Ісусу слава!
Лунає пісня над схилами Дніпра!
Ісусу слава, Ісусу слава!
Співає вільна Україна!
Люди України, піднімайте руки,
Прославляйте Сина, Він єдиний Бог!
Він своєю кров'ю розірвав кайдани,
Він достойний слави, Ісус Христос!

Glory to Jesus, Glory to Jesus!
A song runs over the Dnieper slopes!
Glory to Jesus, Glory to Jesus!
Free Ukraine is Singing!
People of Ukraine, raise your hands
Praise the Son, He is the only God!
He broke the chains of sin with his blood
He is worthy of glory, Jesus Christ!

Sunday, May 15th 

The rest of the days were similar to the the days prior. 

Monday, May 16th 

On the evening of the last day,  I went out on a walk to capture the beauty of Poland.

Tuesday, May 17th 

Leaving Poland with a full heart and a desire to come back, hopefully to Ukraine next time!

Thankful to everyone who supported, cared, prayed! <3

Saturday, November 5th 

Hello everyone! I have not written for a while, but the work in helping Ukraine has not stopped and all the donated money is continually being put to good use, so thank you again! Here is a report just from the last month (Oct/Nov):

1. Sirgiy's Kravchnko's car broke down (transmission)

You may remember, Sirgiy is my third cousin, pastor of a church "New Life" in Cherkassy. He has used this car many, many times to travel to the East of Ukraine to deliver aid. He wants to continue to do so, but needs a car. 

We heard from his wife. She talks about the worsening attacks on Ukraine, the warning sirens that are daily. The electricity outages. She says that they are living with prayer and hope in God.  Then she writes that Sirgiy's and another pastor Ruslan, travel to East Ukraine to help soldiers (and those living in the east of Ukraine).  During the last trip east, Sirgiy's car broke down ( later we called him, and it was the transmission). Sirgiy is of course sad, the repairs are expensive (prices are the same or more as compared to the US). He needs a car to continue to drive aid. She finished by asking for financial help if we are able. 

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