On the front lines

Today, at least 440 fresh graves of mostly civilians were found in the city of Izium, a newly liberated city in eastern Ukraine. Two days ago, we were on the outskirts of this city teaching ultrasound to military doctors and sharing food, medicine, and water filters to the locals who haven’t seen freedom in almost 7 months. As Ukrainian military reinforcements headed east and on to the Russian border, we were also able to hand deliver tourniquets to the fighting men and women who didn’t have these life saving devices. 
The military doctors were extremely happy to receive training, and their own personal Butterfly ultrasound from Dr. Suzanne. This training and portable machine will give them ultrasonic vision to help with trauma stabilization and treatment, and even shrapnel removal. Suzanne taught this in a tent hospital next to the actual hospital as the building was bombed out. This “hospital” is always on the move, as it moves wherever the front is. Suzanne said that the doctors that she trained are very qualified and familiar with using an ultrasound but just don’t have one, and now they do. 
The newly freed Ukrainians were very grateful to receive food and basic medicine, as they said Russian troops would take most of their goods, up until only 2 days earlier. 
Thank you to all of you who’ve donated to A Ripple and our Ukrainian campaign. We’ve used 100% of your funds on tourniquets, water filters and these amazing Butterfly ultrasounds. Here on the front lines of the Ukrainian and Russian war, which is moving daily, they have tourniquets for emergencies, safe water, and the doctors have “x-ray vision” with these ultrasounds. 

As the sounds of explosions grew louder, we kept driving into what was very recently Russian held territory. South east of Kharkiv and into rural villages surrounded by sunflowers as far as the eye could see. Passing destroyed Ukrainian armored vehicles and burnt out Russian helicopters and tanks, weaving around missiles sticking out of the ground, and taking short detours when bridges were bombed out. Our driver was excited to be here, he’s been wanting to visit his friends who’ve lived in Russian stolen land for almost 7 months now. He has tried to come this far before, but last week when a missile landed 60 meters from his van he decided to turn around.
The small villages are mostly without their residents, some killed, with 70% of the houses destroyed. If your modest farmhouse was a little out of town in an open field surrounded by cornfields, it was most definitely destroyed. On this day, two days after liberation, the scars of war were still real, in the towns and on the faces of these Ukrainians. The sound of explosions were common to these people, but we knew when to take detonations seriously when the locals would flinch. 
Delivering food, medicine, and water filters to these mostly deserted and destroyed villages is a privilege. Seeing the hardworking elderly farmers and their destroyed houses is heartbreaking. They were happy to see us, but tired and drained. War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing.

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