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West Shore team returns from humanitarian trip to Ukraine

Group gave firefighting, medical and educational supplies during eight days in the war-torn country
A photo from the Ukraine trip, featuring Sooke School District chair Ravi Parmar second from left), videographer Brendan Strain (middle), and former Langford fire chief Bob Beckett (third from right). (Courtesy of Ravi Parmar/Sooke School District)

The Bob Beckett-led humanitarian trip to Ukraine has returned to the Island after eight-days in the war torn country.

Langford’s former fire chief was joined on the mission by Sooke School District board chair Ravi Parmar, Nick Dechev, founder of Victoria Hand Project, and Brendan Strain, a volunteer videographer. The group delivered firefighting equipment, medical equipment and education supplies.

“What struck me while visiting schools in Ukraine was how similar their values were to those of our district,” said Parmar, SD62.

With donations from Monk Office, over $10,000 worth of school supplies were donated to three Ukrainian schools. Parmar also met with four different schools and delivered letters from a Grade 5 class at Willway Elementary School to their pen-pal school in Ukraine.

The group also delivered thousands of dollars in medical supplies – via Canadian non-profit WUNDERFUND – to hospitals across western Ukraine, and coordinated plans for the Victoria Hand Project to expand its support in the country. During the trip, five Ukrainian amputees were fitted with prosthetic arms.

“Community-based volunteer groups are the backbone of humanitarian responses,” Beckett said in a statement. “The support that we were able to deliver during our trip made possible by everyone who donated their supplies, time or money matters. When you combine our efforts with all of the other organizations and volunteer groups assisting Ukraine, we are making a difference and they know they are not alone in this.”

Money for the trip is coming from the $50,000 collected at a fundraiser back in November last year.

This is the second trip Beckett and a group from Langford have taken to Ukraine. During the first, Beckett, Strain, former Langford Mayor Stew Young and GlobalMedic volunteer Shawn Carby travelled to observe humanitarian efforts, provide supplies and meet with local politicians.

Four Ukrainian municipalities and their school districts signed sister city agreements with Langford and SD62 respectively, according to a previous statement from the City of Langford. Upon the group’s return back in June 2022, SD62 also announced plans to share curricula with school districts in Ukraine and create a pen pal program.

READ MORE: Group from Langford returning to Ukraine for humanitarian mission

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About the Author: Goldstream News Gazette Staff

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