Posted by Kitt Brand

When you enter many cities, you often see the familiar Rotary wheel welcoming you.  The symbol reminds you that Rotarians work around the community, around the province, the country, and the world.  This month, we’ll see how three individuals used their interests and experiences to help internationally.

Three People, Helping Many

Meet Alain Guerard, retired logistics specialist.  He knows how to get anything from anywhere to anywhere else.  He is also a volunteer at AJ’s Loan Cupboard in Medicine Hat.  When he learned of the need for rehabilitative medical equipment for war victims in Ukraine, he went into action. 
With the cooperation of AJ’s, he arranged to ship excess items like crutches of all kinds, wheelchairs, walkers, and other items.  Coordinating with the Rotary Club of Calgary North and Grant McEwan College with generous donations of dental equipment and emergency vehicles, he worked with Western Crating and WTS Logistics of Calgary and Edmonton to fill a container loaded strategically for ocean travel to be shipped pro bono to The World Freight Group in Poland, and then destuffed at various locations in Ukraine needing specific medical items.  June is/was the first shipment, his trial run for more containers to help in Europe.
Among the items in his next shipment to Ukraine will be a rare pair of crutches with their own story, a gift of hope donated by our second Rotarian, Richard, of the Rotary Club of Calgary North.  “I was visiting islands in the South Pacific.  While in the ocean one evening, I felt a sudden punch in my right thigh, then a creepy slithering sensation as the menacing sea monster went on its way.”  Blood was everywhere. Richard was close enough to shore that one man leapt to his rescue, tore off his shirt, and used it as a tourniquet.  While others used their cell phones to video, this man put Richard in his car despite the profuse bleeding and took him to a hospital where “…there was no doctor…but they had bandages and morphine to get me through the night.”  Richard could not get help arranging for a medical evacuation.  “I became increasingly concerned for my life and safety.  People in surrounding beds did not seem to recover; they seemed to disappear.
After a few days and an alarming earthquake…in the middle of the night, I commandeered a wheelchair and made my way out of the ward.  I hid in a dark corner of the hospital parking lot.”  A stranger got him a stick to use as a cane and drove Richard to his lodgings.  That next day, Richard went to a meeting of Rotarians in Port Vila.  They found him a qualified doctor who saw him immediately and helped save his life.  Along the way The Crutches entered Richard’s life.  More than mobility, the Crutches gave him hope. 
Porta Vila Rotarians helped him get back to Canada and to the assistance of other Rotarians in Calgary, who guided him to more additional medical care. “The frightening impression on my thigh bears no semblance to the grateful impression on my heart for the goodwill of my fellow Rotarians to whom I owe my life.”  Now, Richard is sending The Crutches to Ukraine to hopefully save a life and offer hope for a healed future.  Their story has been translated into Ukrainian and attached to their special packaging.  Rotarians in Kyiv are already calling them “The Magic Crutches.”   Our logistics friend, Alain Guerard, says that they will be treated and transported as a sacred embodiment of friendship to a civilian or veteran in Ukraine.
Our third Rotarian using one of her special interests to help with medical aid to Ukraine is Kim Dominguez, a Rotary E-Club of Canada One member.  Kim is a walker.  At age 4 ½ years, she pushed her dolly in a buggy 6 km before anyone could find her.  You'll find her on the trails in Canada, Australia, New Zealand… wherever she is. 
She decided to use her “habit” to attract funds for medical assistance to Ukraine through a GoFundMe page.  She is walking 2,411 miles from Southern Spain, where her husband Juan was born, to Kyiv, Ukraine: Spain to Ukraine.  “With your help, we can raise money to ensure that Ukrainians have the medical supplies they desperately need.  All monies collected will be managed through the Rotary Club of Calgary North Foundation.” To join her, Donate Here. and Follow her trail on Facebook
Three Canadians, three Rotarians… use their interests, talents, and experience to help in the world.  Why don’t you join in?  Help the Ukrainian Medical Support Project, donate equipment, sponsor shipping, and share your special expertise.  Text: Alain Guerard equipment (403) 585-8686; general inquiries Kitt Brand (403) 928-1681 (Medicine Hat) or business contributions Gerry Darichuk (403) 818-0735 (Calgary).