$30K and counting raised for Ukrainians by Rhode Island professors

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – A group of professors from Brown University are teaming up to help those fighting in Ukraine against Russia.

The group, called “Friends of Ukraine RI” has already raised nearly $30,000 in just two days. All of the money will be used to help purchase and deliver medical supplies to those on the ground.

It consists of the following members:

  • Natasha Rybak:  Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease; co-founder and co-director of the Brown University Ukraine Collaboration (Rotary Youth Exchange in Lviv, Ukraine 1993-1994)
  • Tony Levitas: Senior Fellow at Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University
  • Michael Kennedy: Professor of Sociology and International and Public Affairs, Brown University
  • Maya DeHart: Director of Healthcare Delivery, UNITE HERE HEALTH (Rotary Youth Exchange in Lviv, Ukraine 1993-1994)
  • Rachel Padilla: MD ’22 UMass Chan Medical School (former Programs Coordinator, Brown University Ukraine Collaboration)
  • Andriy Chybisov: Program Manager, American Cancer Society (former Program Manager at Peace Corps/Ukraine; former member of the Brown University Ukraine Collaboration)

“The time is now really to take a stand and I think that people realize this and that’s the only way I can explain how in 48 hours there’s $30,000 or near that,” Tony Levitas said. “We’ve been shocked at the speed which money is coming in. We’re extremely grateful for it and hope it will continue.”

Levitas spent most of his adult life working in Ukraine, along with the other five members of the group. He says through a group of 11,000 former Peace Corp. operators based in Ukraine and Poland, they’ll verify calls for medical aid and determine the best way to get them.

“We really started this out of a feeling of helplessness. You get a call Thursday or see the news Thursday when the invasion has started and you’re getting calls from friends about where they’re going and what they need help with and you don’t know what you can really do,” Levitas said. “So we just said, we’ve got to raise money.”

The money will go towards emergency medical equipment for the front lines, such as paramedic backpacks, medical splints, antibiotics, sterile wipes, thermal blankets, tourniquets, IV systems, bandages and dressings, and shields for evacuating the injured.

“The initial impetuous — and we’ll see how it works — is to get direct cash transfers to people to buy the supplies and equipment that is available in Ukraine but has become too expensive,” Levitas said. “We’re seeing all sorts of civilian causalities. There are requests for ultra sound machines that we’ve filled, investigations of shrapnel in people’s bodies, it’s unimaginable.”

To donate, visit: Stand with Ukraine | Fundly

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