SCPS Disaster Mental Health Relief Committee
To highlight the urgency of the crisis unfolding in Ukraine, below is a personal letter from a Psychiatry trainee here in Southern California detailing his experience witnessing the situation unfold near his hometown in Ukraine. At the end of the letter, there is a list of organizations raising funds to support Ukraine. SCPS has not vetted the organizations listed in this letter. We would like to remind our members to vet organizations carefully before contributing. If you are interested, we recommend you read this article to learn how to evaluate charities to make the biggest impact to help Ukrainians. ~SCPS
I am writing to you all from a state of utter shock and disbelief. I was born in Sumy, Ukraine and came to the United States when I was fifteen years old. Only a week ago my wife and I were discussing when would be the best time for our kids to visit Sumy, Ukraine for the first time. Roman, my oldest, was born right before the pandemic started and we have not yet been able to visit his grandmother and my home country. As my wife and I talked about when would be ideal time to visit, I imagined taking him to this tiny private airport, where I got to visit during my last trip because he loves heavy machinery. I also pictured taking him to the river where I used to play as a child with my grandmother.
This morning, I woke up to the video footage of my hometown. The streets that lead to the airport were covered in smoldering rocket shells with tanks and heavy artillery parked right in the middle of what once was a busy intersection. I had tears running down my cheeks and a heavy knot in my throat. My grandmother, who still lives in Sumy, may not get a chance to meet my children. I could never have imagined such terror inflicted on people, who, like many of us, just wanted a better life for themselves and their children. My hope for peace ended after seeing these frightening images of my home.
Now I am sitting here with a heavy heart, trying to figure out what I, a Ukrainian-American, a father, a son, and a doctor can do. I am in my final year of psychiatry residency, and my first thought is to make sure that I am okay. I deeply cherish all the well-wishes from everyone who has reached out offering their support. The love that I experienced from others has once again sparked some hope in me.
My second thought is with the brave men and women who took up arms to defend Ukraine against Russian aggression. They know what they are facing, and their heroic sacrifice gives me even more hope. It is no metaphor to say that Ukrainians are not only fighting for their country, but also for the fate of freedom and democracy itself.
The calamity caused by Putin’s regime is creating a massive humanitarian crisis, that has not been seen in Europe since World War II. Like my grandmother, older people and children currently in Ukraine are unable to leave and many of them have nowhere to go. The damage inflicted by ongoing Russian bombardment of large Ukrainian cities leaves many people without food, water, or even shelter.
This is a dark hour, not just for Ukraine, but for humanity itself. And despite my impulse to give up, I wanted to speak about hope. Regardless of the message that Russian propaganda is displaying about the invincibility of their military, Ukrainian soldiers are fighting back. The enemy can and will be defeated.
Ukrainians need our help!
Let’s not let the next 21st century tyrant get away with a terror. Ukraine needs all the military, humanitarian, and economic help right now to mount an effective resistance for weeks to follow. Speak with your representatives about additional aid to Ukraine and putting further sanctions on Russia. There are many worthy causes to get behind, this is one where the time to act is NOW. Please see below the list of organizations that you can donate to.
Oleksandr Trofymenko, MD
PGY-4 Psychiatry Resident
United Help Ukraine – https://unitedhelpukraine.org/
This nonprofit organization receives and distributes donations, food and medical supplies to displaced Ukrainians “affected by Russia’s invasion.” Along with raising awareness of the crisis in Ukraine with the international community, the charity’s fundraising activities help wounded Ukrainian soldiers, and families of wounded and killed soldiers.
Direct Relief – https://www.directrelief.org/
Direct Relief is one of the world’s largest distributors of donated medical supplies. It has provided Ukraine $26 million in medical aid over the past six months.
Mercy Corps – https://www.mercycorps.org/
Mercy Corps is on the ground in Romania and Poland, assessing urgent humanitarian needs in Ukraine and the region. They plan to provide emergency cash assistance and support local organizations in the coming weeks.
International Medical Corps – https://internationalmedicalcorps.org/
International Medical Corps provided medical services and prescription medicine to people in Eastern Ukraine. The organization is planning to focus their relief effort on providing access to food and water, as well as mental health and psychosocial support.
Save the Children – https://www.savethechildren.org/
Save the Children has been providing education, food, water, and cash grants to Ukrainians since 2014. Since the crisis, it has helped distribute hygiene kits and winter clothes, as well as providing protective services for unaccompanied minors fleeing the country.
Current Refugee and Asylum Seeker Resettlement Organizations in Southern California