Robert’s column

Robert’s column

Robert Barron column: We should do what we can to help Ukraine

There are things that we can do to help as the Ukrainians bravely continue to struggle

Kudos to North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring for his efforts to donate spare firefighting gear the municipality has and send it to war-ravaged Ukraine, and successfully urging other local governments on the Island to do the same.

A number of other communities answered Siebring’s call and, thanks to assistance from Edmonton’s Firefighter Aid Ukraine and Vancouver-based Defend Ukraine Foundation, it’s expected the equipment will soon be on the way to Odesa, a port city in Ukraine that has seen numerous missile attacks in recent weeks and may soon be facing much worse.

I don’t know how much equipment was collected, but I’m sure it will be greatly appreciated by the firefighters in Odesa, and the citizens that they protect.

Siebring sprang into action to gather the equipment after he recently received a phone call from his friend Ken Charko asking for assistance.

Charko is a Ukrainian who lives in Vancouver but returned to Odesa to help out as best he can as the city faces increased bombing from Russian forces.

“He was deeply distressed by the aftermath of the overnight bombing there; most specifically the fact that the fire department in Odesa is seriously under-equipped to deal with the kinds of fires that have broken out there,” Siebring said at the time.

It made me feel good to see there was something we Vancouver Islanders could do to help Ukrainians through their ordeal as Russian President Vladimir Putin continues with his outrageous plan to eradicate Ukraine as a country, and apparently kill as many of its citizens as he and his armed forces can along the way.

It’s heartbreaking to see so many lives of innocent people destroyed over the whim of a tin-pot dictator with delusions of grandeur who is more than willing to shatter the world order that has been in place since the end of the Second World War, a mainly peaceful one in which the human race has largely prospered, so he can try to resurrect a lost Russian Empire that had been relegated to the history books.

Thanks to the long reach of the media, we are every day witnessing the appalling sights of dead bodies discarded on the sides of roads (some with their hands tied behind their backs), destroyed cities and millions of refugees running for their lives.

It’s outrageous and I personally feel frustratingly powerless to do anything about it.

If I was younger (and braver) and had at least some army training, I would like to think that I would follow the many young army veterans from numerous Western countries who have made their way to Ukraine to assist in any way they can.

However, the reality is that I just don’t fit the bill, and I suspect that I would be more of a hindrance to the Ukrainian army’s war effort than helpful.

But, as Siebring made clear with his firefighting gear initiative, there are things that we can do to help as the Ukrainians bravely continue to struggle against a mammoth military powerhouse in a sort of David-Goliath scenario.

One organization that is doing good work helping Ukrainian civilians who are fleeing the fighting and needs donations is the United Nations’ World Food Program, which has sent aid workers to Ukraine and neighbouring countries to get food to people caught in the crossfire of the conflict.

Other organizations you might consider donating to who are also active in helping displaced Ukrainians include World Vision Canada, Save the Children Canada, GlobalMedic, and the Canadian Red Cross.

Our donations may seem to be pretty small in light of the ongoing catastrophe that is engulfing Ukraine, but every little bit counts.

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