Tell us a little about yourselves. What is your background?
Marilynn and I are retired physicians currently living in Wilmington, NC. Marilynn is a pulmonologist, and Guy is a rheumatologist. We met while in different medical schools and signed up to do an elective on the Navajo reservation in Arizona. We celebrated our 41st anniversary while volunteering in Ukraine. We have two children and two grandchildren, and enjoy traveling and experiencing different cultures.
How did you hear about Global Care Force?
During the Covid epidemic, we traveled to the Navajo reservation, volunteering independently with the Indian Health Service. We met other volunteers working with Covid Care Force, and returned for a second tour of duty there, this time with Covid Care Force. We were fortunate to meet Dr. Gary Morsch personally at that time, and kept in touch with the organization, including referring another volunteer.
This was your first time in Ukraine. Tell us about the Ukrainian people.
The Ukrainian patients were courageous, humble, and very appreciative of all the help we were able to provide. Despite the suffering they are experiencing, they didn’t complain, and they appeared resilient and optimistic about the outcome of the war. Our Ukrainian translators were articulate and energetic, and were truly vital to the success of the mission.
Why did you want to serve with Global Care Force to volunteer in Ukraine?
Our previous experience with Covid Care Force on the Navajo reservation convinced us of the sincerity and effectiveness of the organization. We were confident the mission would be organized in a way that would allow us to use our skills effectively in a relatively safe manner.
You probably have several memories that stand out from your volunteer service. Can you share one or two that will stay with you?
There were many. We remember the lines of people in the hallways of the buildings used as make-shift clinics, patiently waiting to see us. We remember the very high blood pressures and the obvious pain and stress of these individuals, often elderly and frail, and we recall their gratitude when we could offer needed medication and support. We remember the demolished apartment buildings, destroyed vehicles, and rusting Russian tanks in the suburbs of Kyiv. There were bullet holes in the slide of an abandoned playground. We remember the beautiful architecture of the cities. We remember the teamwork involved in our daily setup and takedown operations.
Tell us about the rest of the volunteer team.
The team included one other provider, a triage nurse, a stellar Ukrainian physician, our coordinator – Roxanne, and our translators. There were two van drivers, one of whom was the Ukrainian pastor, Sergei. Despite different backgrounds, we formed a cohesive team, communicating to share our skills most effectively.
Global Care Force continues to send volunteers to Ukraine. What should volunteers know about the country, the culture, and the people?
Ukraine is clearly an independent country with a unique culture and history that is fascinating to explore. Volunteers would find it difficult to work in a situation as deserving and rewarding as this. Getting to know the people – both the translators and the patients – was a real privilege.
Global Care Force Founder Dr. Gary Morsch believes serving others transforms your life. Would you agree?
Absolutely. We share his vision of the value of using our medical skills to try to make a difference in the lives of people globally. Our previous experiences in volunteering in different environments have always been transformative.
What motivates you to volunteer? What does serving others mean to you?
It has always been rewarding to work as physicians, but volunteering our time and skills at this point of our lives has added challenge and personal fulfillment. We appreciate our own good fortune and the opportunity to give back.
If someone is considering volunteering with Global Care Force in Ukraine, what would you tell them?
Do it! Global Care Force will ensure a well-organized and fulfilling experience. You will be aware of the risks that the entire Ukrainian population is facing, and you will briefly share those risks, but in as safe a manner as possible.
Anything else about your experience with Global Care Force you would like to share?
We have found the whole organization to be responsive, efficient, and committed to a successful mission. Roxanne Jones is an exceptional coordinator and a major asset. We applaud Gary Morsch for his willingness to seek solutions for health crises and inequities. We will strongly consider another volunteer tour.
Interested in Volunteering in Ukraine?
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