MARCH 2023 UPDATE
Friends of Ukraine,
Hope all is well. This update was going to be sent earlier but at the time of writing, we received tragic news about our friend Sasha which we will address later in greater detail.
First of all, March 18th is the first anniversary of the Canadian Support Foundation (CSUF). CSUF was established by Dale and Andrea Shumka at the outbreak of war and partnered with Andriy Dorosh at Dorosh Heritage Tours (DHT) to provide immediate Humanitarian Aid to the overwhelming number of refugees that were fleeing the country to escape war zones.
Looking back, it has been an overwhelming experience seeing the death, destruction, and hardships that were the result of Russia’s illegal attempt to be masters of the people of Ukraine. Along the way, it has been an emotional rollercoaster and during our many travels across Ukraine, we have tried our best to record firsthand the numerous challenges and the people of Ukraine at War.
Our accomplishments have been many and in our March 2023 Update, we would like to revisit the brave people who have withstood Putin’s attempts to break the resolve of the Ukrainian people. Where are they now?
You may remember Halyna (you can check this link to see our interview with her and further links to all other stories), her daughter Tetiana, her grandchildren, and her son-in-law Petro. At the outbreak of war, they managed to escape their native village, Andriivka, which is near Kyiv by slipping between two Russian convoys and avoided having to live under Russian occupation and the horrors of becoming another Bucha. Today, Andriivka is in ruins and the family successfully gained entry to the United States and now resides in Pennsylvania. What a dramatic change.
It is not safe for her to live in the city due to frequent missile attacks. Her grandson continues to have classes online which demonstrates the resolve of the Ukrainian people to live everyday life as best as possible and not let the crisis defeat them. Since returning to a nearby village, Olena has visited her home in Kyiv a couple of times but has not been back. On each occasion, the air defense alarms sounded and there were missile attacks.
The 44-man platoon of the National Guard that we helped to outfit and continue to support has recently been transferred to another sector of the front. The good news is that from time to time we are able to receive messages letting us know that they are well, ready to fight, well-trained, and well-equipped. Slava Ukraini!
There are people that you don’t know that become casualties in war and then there is our friend Sasha who was killed in action on March 13th. All of the volunteers at CSUF and DHT as well as our donors have become to know Sasha and Sasha’s passing hits home the true realities of war.
Sasha’s full name is Oleksandr Hnatiuk. He was 31 years young when he was KIA on a combat mission on the morning of March 13th. A Sergeant in the 114th Mechanized Military Brigade, Sasha joined the military in 2011 and saw action when Russia first attacked Ukraine in 2014. A true patriot and veteran, Sasha was again on the front line on the morning of February 24, 2022.
Sasha was involved in delivering much need supplies and ammunition to the front, risking his life every day. Sasha was a soldier’s soldier, one of the most experienced veterans, and his unit and soldiers under Sasha relied on his experience and advice.
We supported Sasha’s unit and he delivered CSUF supplies to the soldiers at the front. Sasha knew what their most urgent needs were and we did our best to fill those needs.
Sasha will be truly missed and his passing leaves a large void at CSUF and DHT. Sasha was loved and respected by so many.
A large number of people that we met and featured in our updates decided to remain and live in Western Ukraine which is relatively safe. Remember Bo? Many of these refugees do not have the financial resources to leave the country ad their native villages are either occupied by the Russians or because of the destruction and constant shelling.
Bohdana and her husband Ruvim at great personal risk continue their work in making deliveries to soldiers in the front. The photo is of Bohdana and Ruvim in Bakhmut. This brave couple is a fine example of the many individuals from many towns and videos throughout Ukraine that have taken the initiative and established their own local group to support the war effort. Besides continuing our Humanitarian Aid projects, CSUF assists local aid organizations such as Bohdana’s. This collaboration at the grass level has made this a real team effort. Such small local aid organizations are making a huge impact on the lives of the needy.
You may remember one of the summer email updates about the wonderful children from our street who organized fundraising to collect money for a night vision camera. In appreciation, the soldiers who received the camera sent a thank you video to the children. We have tried to contact the soldiers recently but we have not been able to do so. Our hope is that they are safe.
Olena as you may remember has organized a much-needed animal rescue group. I once met her and her husband on the street as they carried two buckets of pet food to feed stray dogs living in the nearby abandoned factory. CSUF has not only purchased additional supplies of pet food for the shelter but the video that was posted on our CSUF website attracted a donor from the United States who presently funds the basic daily needs of Olena’s rescue group.
My grandmother has difficulties hearing and she has resisted getting a hearing aid because it makes no sense at all, there’s a war. This is not the 1st war in her life. It’s painful knowing that she has gone through so many difficulties in her lifetime, she deserves a better life at her age. We have finally convinced her to take the 1st step and make her life more comfortable and get fitted for hearing aids. Her first appointment with a specialist has been made.
Alla works hard at supporting the war effort and CSUF continues to support her husband’s military unit and other units that she works with. We are in touch with her all the time. She has planned to visit the frontline soon. Alla’s husband has been missing in action since May last year. Alla is waiting to hear from him one day.
My university friend who you met in one of the email updates is currently at the front in one of its hottest parts. We are not able to keep in regular contact since the mobile network and service are only available when he is not at the front. I check often to see if the messages that I send are delivered.
We would also like to bring you up to date on our current activities. We do a lot of work with military units that specialize in communication support and we recently purchased ten special antenna sets to install in military vehicles.
The soldiers in the photo thank you for the Samsung Galaxy S8 tablet. The Ukrainian army coordinates the work of all artillery units, identifies the mined area, exchanges information between many unit commanders and executors, as well as performs some other tasks with the help of an app that is named “Kropyva Map”. It is installed on a tablet. The RAM of the tablet that we have purchased will let the commander of the particular artillery unit operate properly and make their work as productive and safe as possible.
This is a collimator, a night vision sight that’s very important at the time of night combats when the enemy can get very close. We keep delivering them to the soldiers in the areas where the fights are the heaviest.
Some of the items that we supply to the military units such as 76 member unit of Alla’s husband range from rubber boots, t-shirts, socks, trench building supplies, 6.5kw electric generators, folding cots, medical supplies, dry showers, and wet wipes. The rubber boots are going to be critical with spring thaw just around the corner and the planned spring offensive.
A big thank you for the other Starlink units and the power station that we passed on to Sasha. I talked to Sasha on the phone the day before he was killed. Sasha said that the situation was tough but he sounded positive. It’s when you understand that things should be done today, there may not be a tomorrow. The picture of Sasha is the last photo received from him.
The conditions at the front are harsh. Boots and uniforms get worn down very quickly. Another big thank you for the supplies we have delivered:
This is the animal shelter in the city of Rivne. Our volunteer Olia visited the shelter with her sons. There are 98 dogs there now including some that were brought from the east. The number is changing all the time. The shelter is underfinanced and the situation is often desperate. We have helped them with basic medications: antibiotics, drugs used for sterilization, anthelmintics, and others. Mrs. Tamara head of the shelter sends a huge thank you to the donors of CSUF. You all make this possible.
One of the major projects these past months was focusing on the needs of the forgotten. Seniors are the most vulnerable. From day one we have supported the elderly who often cannot afford basic needs. The delivery of truckloads of valuable firewood, personal care items, food packages as well as patient lift equipment and adult diapers has eased their burden.
Each and every supporter of the Canadian Support Ukraine Foundation can be proud of these achievements. Your supply made all of this possible and the people of Ukraine are forever grateful.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Andriy & Dale