Saskatoon

Saskatoon aid group collecting medical and military gear for Ukraine

A Saskatoon non-profit corporation has shifted from collecting clothing for orphans in Ukraine to asking for night-vision goggles and bulletproof vests.

Stream of Hopes created 7 years ago to help orphans in Ukraine

Rostyk Hursky says he never imagined that he'd be asking for bulletproof vests and night-vision goggles. (Dan Zakreski/CBC)

It's a hard turn that Rostyk Hursky never imagined taking when he created a non-profit corporation in Saskatoon seven years ago to help orphans in Ukraine.

Hursky and his wife, Olesya, registered Stream of Hopes Aid for Ukraine in 2016, one year after starting to solicit donations to help orphans in the country where Rostyk spent the first 13 years of his life before coming to Canada.

The couple were moved to help after Olesya stumbled across a story about a child in Ukraine born with health challenges who was going to an orphanage. The couple had just had their first child and wanted to help.

Since then, they've nurtured a network of contacts to get donations from Canada to kids in Ukraine.

This week, Stream of Hopes began asking for donations that include night-vision goggles, bulletproof vests, tourniquets and helmets.

"I never thought in my entire life this would be something," he said Thursday.

The war in Ukraine raised fresh global alarm Friday after Russian forces attacked a key nuclear plant in the south. Officials say the fires that ensued have now been extinguished and that no radiation leaks have been detected.

Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelensky, spoke with world leaders just after the attack, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Meanwhile, Russia continued other attacks on cities throughout Ukraine overnight.

Accepting donations

Hursky is collecting donations in a warehouse at 3403 Faithful Ave. He says that he and Oleysa got the space earlier this week after getting approached by local dance groups who wanted a way to help people in Ukraine.

They approached Hursky because he already had a network established to get goods from here to Europe.

Hursky said they reached out to their contacts to find out what people needed.

"They put together a bunch of lists of what's needed most. We went through those lists, they're massive, and we decided to focus our efforts on 15 or 20 things rather than 100 or 200," he said.

"Medical supplies like gauze and tape, painkillers or Advil and Tylenol, things like that. Tents and sleeping bags, yoga mats, something so that soldiers, when they sleep, they don't have to sleep on the ground. Warm gloves, construction gloves, thermal underwear, socks.

"Those are kind of things that we're looking to raise and ship."

Hursky said the situation is fluid. He's still working on nailing down what can actually be shipped and how it will be routed to its final destination in an active war zone.

"Collectively we're putting all these things together," he said.

"We're trying everything possible to show our support and support them as much as possible."

For more information on how to donate and the warehouse hours, go to www.streamofhopes.ca

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Zakreski is a reporter for CBC Saskatoon.

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