Written by Jun An Liu and Yi Qian Chen
Translated by H.B. Qin
Edited by Adriana DiBenedetto
On June 2, 2022, the Buddhist Tzu Chi Charity Foundation signed a Memorandum of Understanding, or MOU, with four international organizations — Airlink, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), Project HOPE, and World Hope International — to bring critical medical care to people who’ve fled from Ukraine. Through this collaboration, we will be able to deliver medicine, medical supplies, medical equipment, and additional health-related items.
The official signing ceremony was held virtually, and was attended by Airlink’s President & CEO, Steven J. Smith, ADRA’s Vice President for Programs, Imad Madanat, Project HOPE’s Executive Vice President, Chris Skopec, and World Hope International’s President & CEO, John Lyon, Esq. Also at this ceremony was Buddhist Tzu Chi Charity Foundation CEO Po-Wen Yen, Tzu Chi USA CEO Debra Boudreaux, and Buddhist Tzu Chi Charity Foundation Project Specialist Branda Huang, to jointly help facilitate the smooth transportation of these essential supplies.
Buddhist Tzu Chi Charity Foundation CEO Po-Wen Yen expressed that the four participating organizations each have their own specialties. These joint efforts will facilitate effective, compassionate humanitarian aid by focusing on transportation, medical supplies, hygiene, clean water, and more. Through our partners, Tzu Chi’s supplies will be delivered more conveniently and quickly to healthcare facilities in Ukraine and those that are supporting families now taking refuge in the Republic of Moldova.
Tzu Chi USA’s CEO, Debra Boudreaux, had recently visited Europe to learn about operations at the humanitarian logistics centers, sharing, “Due to the war, it takes about six months for medical supplies from outside to reach Ukrainian hospitals.” She also explained that hospitals in Ukraine are currently experiencing an extreme shortage of medical supplies, and medical systems in neighboring countries are also facing challenges as they care for the physical and emotional needs of Ukrainians who’ve fled from violence in Ukraine. The joint efforts of Tzu Chi and our partners will expedite the transportation of more humanitarian supplies.
Since February, more than 460,000 people from Ukraine, most of whom are women, children, and older adults, have crossed into neighboring Moldova. According to World Hope International President & CEO, John Lyon, Esq., Moldovan families have been hosting and providing free medical care to Ukrainians in need of support. The organization will continue to focus on the provision of emergency food, clean drinking water facilities, and community safety in Moldova.
Furthermore, “We can only do this together,” said Chris Skopec, Executive Vice President of Project HOPE. “It’s hard to understate the scale of this crisis, but it’s not just the scale, but the speed with which it developed. Really unprecedented in the last few decades of humanitarian response. And that put a tremendous burden on the Ukrainian health system, first and foremost, and the aid community working in support of them. In those early days, the lists, the needs, that were going around in terms of medical supplies, pharmecutecals, were unending. We were getting them from all over the country. They were almost all-inclusive from so many different sources. It was really a source of desperation. And the pressure that put on frontline healthcare workers, which is what Project HOPE exists to do as its mission, is support frontline healthcare workers around the world and give them the tools, the training, the environment they need to be successful and to stand in support of the health needs of their community.”
The Adventist Development and Relief Agency maintains several branches in Ukraine, and understands the pressing needs of people across the country. ADRA often works with local organizations and hospitals to quickly deliver supplies to those most in need of aid. “By Working in a consortium, we come together to deliver our partners the resources and capacity so we can together impact more, ” said Imad Madanat, ADRA’s Vice President for Programs.
“We cannot understate the human tragedy currently impacting the people of Ukraine,” expressed Steven J. Smith, President & CEO of Airlink, which is responsible for the logistics and transportation of humanitarian supplies. “The Republic of Moldova has been a key focus of concern for many in the NGO community, as the government currently manages the largest population of refugees per capita of any of Ukraine’s neighbors. Responding meaningfully to human suffering on this scale requires a coordinated effort on multiple sectors — public, private, and philanthropic — utilizing the skills, expertise, and resources of each to bring aid and hope to the people of Ukraine.”
“Early in March, we were able to rapidly deploy about $12 million worth of medical supplies to Moldova in partnership with Airlink and their airline partners to get supplies on the ground,” shared World Hope International’s President & CEO, John Lyon, Esq. “And, as a result of this consortium, I’m very appreciative that we can continue doing this work in Moldova.”
To date, Tzu Chi volunteers from 11 countries have gathered in Poland to care for the people of Ukraine, and have held more than 130 distribution events in four major Polish cities and surrounding regions, aiding more than 40,000 Ukrainians. The supplies distributed included cash cards, eco-friendly blankets, sleeping bags, food, and more. A total of 14,080 Biedronka supermarket shopping cards have been distributed, totaling $6,536,300 USD (27,910,000 PLN).