GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — As the Russia-Ukraine war rages on, Ukraine continues to struggle to get even the most basic needs to its people. One Grand Rapids nurse is doing what he can to bridge that gap.
Thad Cummings just returned from Lviv, Ukraine, where he delivered 550 pounds of medical supplies. He told FOX 17 Tuesday, even as their country gets torn apart, Ukrainians still have hope knowing people, like himself, are willing to help.
Cummings, an emergency department nurse at North Ottawa Community Health System, is trained to help people at their lowest points. After seeing the devastation in Ukraine, he knew he had to do something.
“I think the blunt reality is there’s a lot of pain and brokenness in this world," said Cummings. "How are we going to individually, collectively, communally use these skill sets that we have to try and address some of this pain and brokenness in the world?"
Cummings found the answer by turning to his own skill set — medicine. So, he contacted a charity in Ukraine called Charity Foundation Source of Revival (CFSR), who sent back a lengthy list of different needs, from antibiotics to blood pressure medicine.
Cummings then went around buying supplies with the help of some community support, but also had to max out his credit cards to get everything he wanted to bring.
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“Turns out medicine is very expensive; it’s not always that cheap," Cummings joked.
After spending $8,000, Cummings collected 550 pounds of medical supplies, packing it all into 10 bags of luggage, a backpack and a carry on.
Cummings then flew into Poland and was driven to Lviv, a sort of safe haven city in Ukraine near the border.
CFSR put his supplies into utility vans, along with food and other necessities, and drove them into war zones with active fighting. On their way out, they picked up women and children to smuggle them to safety.
“It is oftentimes these simple acts that bring just a little bit of hope in some of the darkest times that this generation may ever experience in their life," said Cummings.
In a video recorded on Cummings's phone, one of the Ukrainian doctors expressed her gratitude: “Everybody says thank you so, so, so, so much," she said.
After showing FOX 17 that video, Cummings said, “These are the glimmers of hope that keep that fire going in the Ukrainian people."
Cummings came back to the states on Saturday, but after seeing his impact, he's already preparing to do this again.
“Your actions matter," he said. "Your help matters. I may be lucky enough to see it where many people don’t, but it is real for them. Their joy and their tears are a beautiful and difficult reminder of the difficulties in this life. At the same time, we can all make a difference.”
Cummings said his next trip to Ukraine is planned for April 20. Anyone who wants to contribute can connect with Cummings over email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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