HONOLULU (KHON2) — It can be frustrating watching the atrocities happening during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine right now, and feeling helpless to do anything about it as a reported 847 civilians have been killed, including 64 children.
Local nurse Derek Bown was so moved by what he watched on television that he flew thousands of miles across the planet to help.
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It started with crowdsourcing for items and money to donate.
“I was inspired by just watching a lot of news about Ukraine and feeling desperate to do something and telling myself, gosh, you know what, what would I do? What can I do? I can’t do anything,” Bown said.
With cold weather clothes packed in duffel bags, along with supplies, he and his stepson took off to Poland with a destination of the Ukrainian border.
There, Bown asked police where he could be of the most assistance.
“We were donating all the stuff that we brought,” said Bown. “A lot of our friends and people in the next door app have donated supplies and money and so we bought some more supplies with the money and we brought about between $600 – $800 worth of food and blankets,”
Bown is no stranger to tragedy. He’s a public health nurse who ran COVID clinics during the pandemic. Now, he’s working daily in the medic tent and making first aid kits while also doing anything he can to organize help for refugees.
“Being a nurse we tend to have a lot of experience and confidence in our problem-solving. And that is probably more valuable. I think it’s more valuable than money,” Bown said.
He hopes this will inspire others to do the same if they have resources.
“It feels really good to be able to help. I was able to — I was just delivering the blankets that we brought and I was able to give a family a lot of the blankets that we brought,”
If not, there are other ways to donate.
“So far the only one I can verify is present as far as the international aid organizations and is actually on the ground where I am is the World Central Kitchen,” Bown said. “They’re providing food to everybody. So that would be a great one to donate to,”
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Bown is planning to return to the islands on Sunday.