Saskatoon man volunteers in Ukraine to assist these in want

A Saskatoon resident has been overseas in Ukraine, helping where he can.

Brett Drozd said he’s currently in Dnipro, and has been volunteering since May doing a range of work, even endangering his own life.

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“When I initially arrived I was working at the border, there was still a lot more of a cacophony going on there. I was helping out with logistics and aid supply that was coming into the country at the time,” Drozd said.

He added that soon dropped off, and he moved to Kyiv, where he linked up with other international volunteers to help where he could.

“We were helping with animal shelters, which were overflowing at the time because of the mass exodus from the suburbs around Kyiv.”

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Drozd helped fund improvements for a shelter in Kyiv.

Drozd helped fund improvements for a shelter in Kyiv.

Courtesy Brett Drozd

“So we raised some money for a shelter there that was sheltering I think 1,500 dogs, and several hundred cats,” Drozd said.

He added they raised money to get some facility upgrades for the building, piping hot water to different parts of the building, and rewiring the electrical, as well as making dog houses.

Drozd said some of the more grim work he’s been able to do is fundraise to supply several hundred body bags to a battlefield coroner.

“He used (them) to pick up fallen soldiers and then bring them back home to their families so that they could have a proper funeral, and the families could pay their last respects to their loved ones.”

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He added he also worked to help remove rubble from areas that had been shelled by the Russians, so that the rebuilding effort could get underway.

Drozd said that was when he moved to Dnipro, and has been helping evacuate civilians and animals from the danger zones in the Donbas region.

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“It’s really the life saving, necessary, and very time sensitive work that needs to be done.”

A tank in Ukraine.

Courtesy Brett Drozd

He said during his first evacuation he was under direct shelling.

“When I went to Donbas my first time it was truly a baptism by fire. My very first time I went out I was having mortar and artillery fire fall around me within 15 meters of me and my car,” Drozd said.

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“There was no military around, this was completely a civilian area that was being shelled and bombed mercilessly.”

He noted he was fundraising to get his own vehicle so that he can continue his evacuation work.

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“With the state of the war as it is now the lines keep moving back and forth, and people are getting caught in the crossfire, and they really need to get out.”

He said much of the work he’s done is largely because of the kindness of strangers, adding that he wouldn’t be able to stay there without help.

“It’s really become just kind of a legion of kind people from around the world that keep the efforts continuing on the volunteer fronts here in Ukraine.”

A van full of bread.

Courtesy Brett Drozd

He said he has three main avenues for funding: email transfers, Paypal, and a GoFundMe page.

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“I couldn’t just sit back and watch this happen, it was far too difficult for me. Coming out here actually was a weight lifted off my shoulders that allowed me to feel like I could at least do what I could, and I don’t have combat experience, I’m not a medic or anything like that. I’ve just tried to do what I can.”

Drozd said he’s met volunteers from around the world, some of them helping to bring in medical supplies, or supplies for civilians like cold weather clothing and feminine supplies, to volunteers who have combat or medical experience helping to train soldiers.

“I want to stay in Ukraine as long as I’m useful.”

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