There are heroes among us.
For Terry Malchuk of Abbotsford, being a hero means rolling up your sleeves and helping wherever you can. For him, that place is Ukraine.
He is one of the founders of The Hero Society of Canada, a humanitarian emergency operation that has been working to get medical supplies from this country to that one since Russia began invading Ukraine.
The society has filled and sent over a shipping container filled with some of the most needed items in a combat zone: medical equipment.
They have also completed 70 missions into Ukraine from other European countries, bringing food rations to soldiers, supplying hospitals and others in need.
And now they need a few more heroes to help fill the next shipping container and pay the $15,000 in freight fees.
There was a lot support for Ukraine on the ground in Canada at the onset of the war, Malchuk said, but it has definitely waned over the year. He was among those who were eager to help Ukranians in the early days. He went there in April last year and ended up staying for three and a half months.
“I was expecting to just be there a couple of weeks,” he said. “But I felt like I should stay there.”
Since he returned and their group ironed out the details of starting up a non-profit organization, they have sent almost $3 million in equipment and supplies overseas.
Part of their team is in a neighbouring country, with volunteers taking trips into Ukraine, sourcing materials within Europe and facilitating the deliveries to where they are needed and will be used.
They don’t do it alone, Malchuk said, and they are one of three groups who work together on this. And together, he said, they’ve accomplished quite a lot.
“We’ve sent equipment that has made it all the way to Kherson,” he said.
Each person in the organization brings their own unique experiences, skill sets and motivation with them. There is a nurse who knows who to ask for supplies, and what is needed the most in a hospital, and there is a logistics guy who goes to Ukraine ahead of a team.
Malchuk got involved knowing he had a lot to give. He is a former member of the Canadian military, and has worked with soldiers to help them with their PTSD after service. Although he doesn’t speak Ukranian, both of his grandparents were from Ukraine.
“When I heard Ukraine was attacked by Russia, I knew I had to go over,” he said. “I would regret it for the rest of my life if I didn’t do anything. I really felt I had to go, that it was a passion.”
He’s heading back in June, and they are currently filling containers. They will be taking portable solar power machines, so hospitals and medical centres can maintain care when the electricity goes out.
Malchuk is motivated to get back knowing firsthand the experiences people there are living through. He has been through bombings, like most others there now. But he has also seen how war affects people’s lives and freedoms.
“When I left Ukraine, I was on a bus going into Poland, (and) there were only three of us men there,” he recalled. “They (authorities) actually escorted one man off the bus, because men are not allowed to leave Ukraine.”
Visit herosocietycanada.ca for more information on how to help.