UCU Helps Ukraine Fund Holds Unbroken Blossom 3 Event to Help Wounded Ukrainian Veterans

Kateryna Mykhailova and Petro Sichko (centre) with UCU Helps Ukraine Fund personnel and guests of the Unbroken Blossom 3 event on October 28. Photo: Mykola Swarnyk

Yuri Bilinsky, New Pathway – Ukrainian News.

UCU Helps Ukraine Fund was initiated in 2015 after it became evident that the Russian aggression is bringing an unabated flow of wounded Ukrainian soldiers to the Ukrainian hospitals. The Ukrainian medical system and government programs for veterans remain limited, and wounded soldiers often lack funds to cover even their most basic needs. After the onset of the war in eastern Ukraine in 2014, Ukrainian Credit Union Limited’s Kateryna Litvinjuk had helped several veterans but quickly realized that a concerted effort was needed.

Since 2015, UCU Helps Ukraine Fund, which was set up by Litvinjuk, together with her colleagues from UCU’s Wealth Strategies team, Michael Zienchuk and Roman Mlynko, has collected $217,000 and distributed $197,648 to 109 wounded soldiers.

These funds are distributed by the local volunteer group Halytski Surmy to the soldiers who are getting treated at the Lviv Military Hospital. Halytski Surmy’s Yuriy Lipar has been the Fund’s trusted partner on the ground who transfers the money personally to the soldiers and helps identify veterans who are in the most pressing need for assistance.

Each and every soldier from the list of 109 has been in great need – the Fund selects only the most difficult cases in terms of medical problems and financial needs. But there are several outstanding recipients of assistance from UCU Helps Ukraine Fund who have been in the spotlight of Ukrainian and international media.

Among this kind of outstanding heroes is Ruslan Filipsonov who was heavily wounded while saving six of his fellow soldiers in August 2014 and has since survived two clinical deaths and had more than 50 operations. Despite this long-term ordeal and the fact that he is missing a big part of his intestine, Filipsonov is continuing his military service.

UCU Helps Ukraine Fund had helped several wounded soldiers who went on to participate in the Invictus Games held in Toronto September 2017. Among them are Vadym Svyrydenko (running), Roman Panchenko (archery), Andriy Usach (archery) and Serhiy Kalytiuk (associate).

On October 28, Toronto welcomed two more participants of the Invictus Games. Kateryna Mykhailova, a wounded veteran of the Aidar Battalion, was a bronze medalist in archery at the Toronto games while her husband Petro Sichko who fought and was wounded while serving for the same battalion, participated in this year’s national Invictus Games, also in archery. The couple were the headliners at the Unbroken Blossom 3 event held by UCU Helps Ukraine Fund at the Knjazhyy Dvir hall of the Golden Lion restaurant.

Mykhailova and Sichko gave passionate speeches which immersed the audience in the atmosphere of heroics of Ukrainian soldiers on the eastern front and of the hardships that the wounded soldiers endure during the process of treatment and rehabilitation.

The NP-UN asked them a question about the current state of provisions of the Ukrainian army, the role of volunteers in this and the quality of medical services for wounded soldiers and veterans. It transpired from their responses that the Ukrainian forces are better equipped and fed currently than at the beginning of the war but that the role of volunteers in supplies of many things is still quite significant in some cases. Prosthetic limbs and many types of medical equipment, which the government provides to the wounded soldiers, are poor quality and this is where the help of charities is particularly needed, they said.

During the event, UCU Helps Ukraine Fund’s Kateryna Litvinjuk, Michael Zienchuk and Roman Mlynko gave reports on the Fund’s activity and shared their memories and vision for the future. They said that, given the persistence of the Russian aggression against Ukraine and the fact that many of the veterans, who have previously received assistants from UCU Helps Ukraine Fund, have further financial needs, the Fund will continue collecting and distributing funds. At the Unbroken Blossom 3, the organizers collected around $5,000. These funds will be enough to cover the immediate needs of three wounded Ukrainian soldiers.

To make a donation, transfer funds to UCU Helps Ukraine Fund’s account #721225-100 at Ukrainian Credit Union Limited or call Kateryna Litvinjuk at 416-763-5575 x152