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Inaugural Langford Humanitarian Aid Mission a Success

Inaugural Langford Humanitarian Aid Mission a Success

The City of Langford saw a high-flight team travel to Ukraine last week, returning with a report of success for humanitarian initiatives.

The relief team of Langford Mayor Stew Young, Langford Fire Chief (Retired) Bob Beckett, GlobalMedic Shawn Carby and volunteer videographer Brendan Strain (a reporter for CTV Vancouver Island) arrived safely back in Canada after their humanitarian aid mission in the Lutsk region of Ukraine. 

The Lutsk region is on the Styr River in northwest Ukraine, where the war torn country is bordered by Belarus to the north and Poland to the west.

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Map of Europe, Ukraine and eastern Russia, showing the location of the Lutsk region. [Google]

A partnered project:

The City of Langford has partnered on a project with GlobalMedic and GlobalFire, experienced Canadian charities, to bring food security and firefighting rescue gear to a heavily affected Ukrainian city.

stew young, bob beckett
Langford Mayor Stew Young (at podium) and SD62 Vice-Chair Bob Beckett making a community-based announcement about Ukraine, June 8, 2022. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

The Langford community was informed about the intended Ukraine mission at a small news event held at Langford Fire Hall #1 on June 8.

To ensure long-term sustainability of the project, the relief team worked with GlobalMedic on the ground in Lutsk to hire displaced Ukrainians to prepare meals and pack and distribute meal kits for those in need. Pallets of firefighting and rescue gear have been gathered and are on the way to the region.

Last week the team saw firsthand the critical needs in the region after meeting with municipal leaders, school officials, emergency responders and medical personnel.

Details of the trip were kept under tight wraps. The team had to turn off their phones there “so they couldn’t be pinged by the Russians”, said Beckett.

stew young, ukraine
Langford Mayor Stew Young on day one of his humanitarian trip in Ukraine in the last week of June. [Supplied]

They stayed in one of the “better hotels”, considered such because there was a bomb shelter in the basement.

As the war continues and the desperation for food, medical supplies and rescue equipment increases, so has the team’s resolve to continue and expand this critical aid work, it was stated by the City of Langford today.

Impactful experience for Mayor Young:

stew young, ukraine
As this interview with Mayor Stew Young was being recorded, there was the sound of a siren indicating one or missiles about to land at any possible location. [June 2022 / supplied]

“Participating in this humanitarian aid mission has been one of the most impactful experiences of my life,” said Langford Mayor Stew Young upon his return.

It has demonstrated to me that not only are our humanitarian efforts critical, but everything needs to be done to resolve this conflict and provide for everlasting peace,” said Young.

“I am proud to be part of a community that cares deeply about others both at home and abroad,” said Young. “Through their generous support, we were able to deliver critical aid and supplies to those in desperate need.”

The uncertainty of life is overwhelming for many of the residents in Ukraine, it was explained to the Langford Ukraine team. Families have had to put their lives on hold. Food supplies are tight.

stew young, bob beckett, shawn carby, ukraine
Support team from Langford visits Ukraine in June 2022, including Langford Mayor Stew Young, Retired Langford Fire Chief Bob Beckett, and GlobalMedic volunteer Shawn Carby. [Supplied]

Sister City agreements:

To ensure long term connection to the region, four municipalities and their school districts have signed Sister City agreements.

The four cities are Horohiv, Boratyn, Olyka and Kamin-Kashyrsk.

From providing support for future needs, promoting cultural and commercial ties, to sharing curriculum and creating a school pen pal program, the agreements will help tie Langford with the Lutsk region for years to come. That is seen as taking place through the current war, as well as the phases of rebuilding and regional recovery.

The team encourages other communities and school districts to start their own Sister City project and will provide information on how simple it is to get started.

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A roof over every head:

“Every place we visited, everyone we spoke to, reinforced for me that throughout the world we all want the same for our families and communities. A roof over everyone’s head, food on the table, a future for our children and to live in peace,” said Chief (Ret.) Bob Beckett. 

“With stocks diminishing and winter looming, and despite their future looking bleak, the peoples’ resolve to defend their families, their country and sovereignty has not wavered.”

The overall project mission is part of helping the people in these Ukrainian cities deal with the economic recovery and healing made necessary by the war conditions imposed by the Russian invasion.

School board involvement:

Beckett — called a humanitarian on this mission — said in a provided interview that it was “at times difficult to meet with the displace families”. He said “there is still a cloud of distress over western Ukraine, that at any moment troops could invade or a missile could land.”

bob beckett, sd62, ukraine
SD62 Vice Chair Bob Beckett being interviewed in Ukraine, June 2022. [Supplied]

“The moms and dads have no idea what tomorrow’s future will look like,” said Beckett, who has been on the SD62 Sooke School District board since being elected for a first term in 2018. He is prsently the SD62 Vice Chair.

Beckett hopes that the SD62 school district — and schools across Canada for that matter — can help with curriculum needs of schools in Ukraine.

SD62 will work with educators in the Lutsk area.

Beckett says most of the schools need bomb shelters, which would be a large infrastructure project for Langford or other municipalities to get behind in supporting with funds or other resources.

Funded by donations:

The Langford-GlobalMedic Ukraine Humanitarian Project is fully funded through donations from the local and regional business communities and supportive people in this region.

Funds are still being collected to support the on-going meal preparation and delivery operation in Lutsk, as well as the donation of firefighting and rescue equipment to the impacted region. Donations to the Langford-GlobalMedic Ukraine Humanitarian Project can be made online. A tax receipt will be issued to donors.

canada helps, donations, langford
The City of Langford-GlobalMedic Ukraine Humanitarian Project is accepting donations online on the website. [Screenshot July 4, 2022]

Compared to the $500,000 raised very quickly from developers and the business community in May and June, the online donations through are being sought from a broader audience now. The Langford business community was advised of the opportunity over the Canada Day weekend, by email.

All funds applied to the cause:

By partnering with GlobalMedic, 100% of the funds raised are specifically used for the critical resources identified by this campaign to bring much needed aid to communities under siege.

Matching donation from the Sprott Foundation:

Donations have been matched with a $150,000 grant from the Sprott Foundation which is based in Oakville, Ontario. Their goals are no poverty and zero hunger. The Sprott Foundation was founded by the Sprott family who continues to carry a major hand in managing it.

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