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PODCAST: Stretchers for Ukraine – compassion in a war-torn land

TODAY IN B.C.: Darrell McKay fundraises for supplies and stretchers
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A 94-year-old woman who was evacuated from her home in the Ukraine. (Darrell McKay photo)

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Darrell McKay of Vancouver Island has made four visits to Ukraine to help with humanitarian efforts in the war-stricken country.

Host Peter McCully talks with McKay, a retired civil engineer who has been using his photography to highlight the conflict in Ukraine.

McKay discovered that stretchers were in short supply, leaving Ukrainian soldiers with a crude alternative: dragging bodies using a rope in a figure-eight pattern. Determined to make a difference, McKay focused on the positive and initiated a fundraising campaign. He successfully raised funds, procuring 102 portable stretchers, costing $37 each, to aid the soldiers on the front lines.

In his mission to provide relief, McKay helped with delivery of crucial medical supplies to the city of Kramatorsk. Hemostats, chest seals, and tourniquets were among the items supplied to support the soldiers in dealing with shrapnel and bullet wounds.

McKay recalls heartwarming encounters with the grateful recipients, who exhibited unwavering hospitality and appreciation for the aid they received.

“The oldest person was a 94-year-old lady,” said McKay. “She’d just been taken from her home and it was a town near Bakhmut. She said she was in the garden. They came to get her out to evacuate her. She looked at her garden, locked her front door, and she left her place. And when we talked to her, she said that she was quite comfortable. She’s got faith in her boys. She said she knows she’s going to go home. Her boys will win. That just shows you the will of the Ukrainian people, said McKay.

McKay says he was taken by surprise by how much people care.

“One friend in particular e-mailed me $1,000, which was amazing,” he said. “She just said, please give this to some of the people in refugee centre that may need help.’ So, I sorted this ‘thousand dollars into envelopes. When I saw a family in need that I could tell was really in dire straits, I’d give them this envelope. On the envelope it said ‘A gift from Canada.’ People were quite surprised. A couple of them actually came up to me crying and said ‘thank you very much.’ The money was enough to get a hotel room for a couple days in Poland and a few meals, just enough hopefully to bridge in between leaving their country and getting to their new refugee centre.”

You can find out more about McKay’s efforts see photos of his travels on his Facebook page.

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