Tag Archives: Ukraine humanitarian crisis

The Power of One


One man, one container. The result? Thousands of people will receive much better medical care.

Benny Shkop set the pace in our Chicago Save Ukraine Now banquet by committing to fill a shipping container with hospital beds, mattresses, wheelchairs and other medical supplies for Ukraine at a cost of $100,000.

Benny exemplifies the “Power of One,” the ability of one person to make a dramatic difference.

A dynamic and energetic young entrepreneur, he has built a global business by selling refurbished medical supplies to hospitals in developing countries. A few years ago, he learned that some of America’s best hospitals replace equipment every four years instead of the industry-standard ten or twelve. Benny founded ReMed to furnish this medical equipment to hospitals unable to afford newer systems.

Leo Bard, our Executive Vice-President, and a key member of our Chicago team, heard about Benny’s business and approached him about shipping medical supplies to Ukraine. Benny eagerly committed to filling a container for just $10,000—a fraction of the value. After the Save Ukraine Now banquet in Chicago, he dropped that number to $3,000.

There is it—the Power of One.

One man, one container. The result? Thousands of people will receive much better medical care.

A few days later, I spoke about Benny’s commitment at a church in Meadville, Pennsylvania. A young couple decided they would give $3,000. With a trembling hand, the husband handed the pastor a check at the end of the service. They had never done anything like that before.

And there it is again—the Power of One.

Stories like this are happening every week in Save Ukraine Now as individuals discover the Power of One.

Two women, Ulana Kushner and Vera Andruskiw, caught the vision for organizing a city-wide effort in Detroit. They built an elite steering committee of 40 people from 20 organizations and held a regional prayer breakfast for religious leaders, a premier event with General Wesley Clark at the renowned Detroit Economic Club, a fundraising banquet and a strategic briefing. More than 1,000 people attended.

And there it is one more time—the Power of One, or, in this case, two.

But the story does not end there. James Fouts, the mayor of the City of Warren, Michigan, home to a substantial Ukrainian-American community, attended the banquet and was duly impressed. He declared a Save Ukraine Now Initiative to fill shipping containers and even directed the city Water Department to include a promotional flyer in the residential bills.

And that illustrates an interesting corollary about the Power of One: it multiplies.

And as it does so, Americans will catch a vision of what they can collectively accomplish. The Talmud says, “He who saves a life, saves the world entire.” That’s the Power of One.

It Takes a Team

Leadership guru John Maxwell has famously said, “If you’re going to do a big job, you need a big team.”

The challenges presented by the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine are staggering — more than 5 million people affected by the conflict, 1.1 million internally displaced persons, 1.7 million children need care and counseling.

Last week, I met with a top UN official in Ukraine. She spent the last 16 years on the ground in war-torn countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, the Central African Republic and Myanmar. She is smart, tough and hard to scare.

After the pleasantries were over, she looked at me and said, “We want to be your partners.” Of course, I asked why.

She said, “If you don’t work with us, people will die. It’s that simple.”

Sometimes team is the difference between life and death.

That’s what we have been doing the last few months, building a team big enough to take on the suffering of a nation. Next month, we launch a national campaign called Ukraine Survival to fill shipping containers with emergency supplies for people whose lives are hanging by a thread. Save Ukraine Now is approaching thousands of churches, synagogues and civic associations across the United States to fill shipping containers with emergency supplies and ship them to Ukraine.

Teams have been organized in Chicago and Detroit to mobilize city-wide efforts. Detroit is setting the standard for team building: more than 20 organizations in the Detroit Metro area have joined with us in this effort. In the last few weeks, churches in New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana and Illinois have launched campaigns in their communities.

It’s still not enough.

We need you. The people of Ukraine need you.

Will you join a team of people from many different backgrounds and incredibly diverse gifts to help save a nation? Would you organize a campaign in your church or community to fill at least one container?

Over three or four weeks in April and May, you ask the members of your congregation or civic organization to fill at least one plastic bag with clothes, shoes and blankets and bring them to the church to be loaded onto a container we will send to you.

Time is running out for thousands of people in Ukraine. But with the efforts of a big team, we can make sure it doesn’t.

I am a Ukrainian!

On a gray, rainy morning, two Islamic radicals wearing ski masks stormed into the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris and mercilessly gunned down 12 people. The world joined the French in mourning, and more than 1.5 million people marched in solidarity the following Sunday, including scores of world leaders.

It was a powerful demonstration of liberty and bravery.

A few days later, a crowded mini-bus stopped at a checkpoint in eastern Ukraine, miles from the battle front. As the mini-bus sat there, dozens of Grad rockets rained down on it. Shrapnel tore through the bus and through bodies, killing ten people instantly — one, a 14-year-old girl. Two more died later of wounds.

Yet only their families and close friends mourned for them.

This gruesome incident fueled no international outrage, no marches for the murdered innocents, no banner headlines. One would think these victims didn’t matter, not in the West, and definitely not in Moscow, where they are pawns in Vladimir Putin’s cynical game for restoring the glory of the Soviet Union.

In Paris, thousands of people carried signs declaring, “Je suis Charlie,” to condemn the violence. When I saw them, I remembered a similar declaration, half a century ago, as President John F. Kennedy stood before hundreds of thousands of Berliners and declared, “Ich bin ein Berliner.”

That expression of solidarity energized a generation of Berliners whose freedom was threatened by Putin’s Soviet forbearers, whose sons and daughters, brothers and sisters were gunned down by Soviet guards as they fled East Berlin seeking freedom. President Kennedy’s act of solidarity told beleaguered Berliners that someone cared, that the United States of America was standing with them. It gave them hope until one day, 26 years later, they tore down that wall.

Ukraine needs that same encouragement today, and as people of conscience, compassion and concern, we must stand with them. Is it not time for us to say, “I am a Ukrainian?”

The Silent Crisis

Rachel Carson wrote a groundbreaking book about the threat to public health posed by the pesticide DDT called The Silent Crisis. This potent moniker also fits the tragedy in Ukraine. The upheaval caused by Putin and his thugs in eastern Ukraine, described by some observers as a “frozen conflict,” is driving an exploding refugee crisis. Moreover, millions of Ukrainians are losing access to the basic necessities of survival, namely food and heat.

Three months ago, our sources estimated 100,000 displaced individuals within Ukraine, the UN now estimates the number to exceed 640,000—with 105,000 new refugees registered in one week alone. UNICEF estimates 1.7 million children are affected. And at least five million people now need humanitarian assistance, more than half of whom are elderly and most vulnerable to the cold.

UN staff report that people are going to die without immediate assistance.

Yet, this skyrocketing refugee crisis has hardly been mentioned in the American media who are fixated on the Russian “incursion” and the geopolitical issues. The “silent crisis” of hundreds of thousands of people without adequate food or water has been ignored and probably will be until people die by the thousands. The silence of the media is becoming a guilty silence.

Save Ukraine Now has played a prominent role in alerting government leaders and media to the silent crisis. We issued an emergency plea during the Christmas season and are making every effort to provide desperately needed relief. Our medical team is supplying medicines and related necessities; we are flooding refugee centers with food and heating supplies; and we provided Christmas gifts to more than 1,000 orphans and refugee children.

But we, and other organizations, are getting overwhelmed by a tsunami of suffering, and the mushrooming cloud of death is frightening even the most seasoned relief organizations. We must find a way to break through this silent crisis and get the public involved – just like we did after the earthquake in Haiti – if we hope to alleviate this situation. America’s generosity and compassion are legendary, but we must become fully aware of a tragedy in order to mitigate it.