Clifton Park couple shares heartbreaking stories they heard in Ukraine
A Clifton Park couple recently returned from volunteering in Ukraine, where they provided medical aid to hundreds of people.
NewsChannel 13’s Tessa Bentulan sat down with both of them as they shared heartwarming and heartbreaking stories from their time abroad.
“People are just so happy that you’re there. They’re just so grateful that you’re there. They want someone to hear their stories,” said Ann Schwanda.
Ann and her husband, Stephen Kineke, got back from Ukraine on October 22. Ann is a registered nurse and Stephen is a family practice doctor.
They have been able to go with Global Care Force. It’s an organization designed to serve people in need, and it sends medical volunteers to Ukraine monthly. If you would like to donate or volunteer, click here.
Ann and Stephen said they have helped around 300 patients in seven different clinics in Ukraine near Mykolaiv.
“We’d set up a mobile clinic and see all comers. Most of the people were elderly. I did a lot of what I do in the States, which is diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, a lot of PTSD, a lot of emotional trauma that we had to deal with as well,” Stephen said.
Stephen has gone to the Ukraine three times and Ann has been twice for volunteer work. They said there is still very much a need for medical volunteers.
“My mother is originally from Czechoslovakia. My grandmother was a babushka. She always had the head scarf and when I would go to Ukraine. It’s like I’m taking care of my grandmother,” Ann said. “For me, it was like helping my family.”
Ann and Stephen said tons of patients would tell them what they’ve been going through during the war.
“They would tell me, ‘My daughter was killed in a mine. I’m taking care of my grandchildren. I’m so concerned about how they’re going to survive being in this environment,’” Ann said.
“The grief that they were feeling. We had one patient whose son was beaten to death by the Russian police, the Russian soldiers. It just makes you want to cry,” Stephen said.
Stephen said they try to console the patients.
“You don’t give false reassurance, but you let them know we’re there. We’re there every month. There will be doctors and nurses coming back. You let them know they’re not going to be forgotten,” he said.