Chad Becker, D.O.’16, and his father, Charlie, enjoy traveling the world and strive to include a charitable component in their trips. When they climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, for example, they brought computers to donate to a local school. But their most recent trip, in late March, was all for humanitarian purposes – delivering much-needed supplies to war-torn Ukraine.
The two men tapped their contacts at hospitals, pharmacies and other organizations to collect approximately 200 pounds of donated medicine and other supplies. They flew to Warsaw, Poland, where they met up with their friend Sam Akina, a filmmaker from Ankeny, IA, who lives there with his wife, Jules Jones. Akina has contacts at hospitals in Lviv, a city in western Ukraine that’s taken in refugees from Russian-attacked eastern Ukraine. The group took a train to Krakow, only a couple of hours from the border, and then loaded a vehicle with the supplies.
“We packed a Ford Explorer to the brim,” Becker says. “There were four men in the vehicle, and we were practically sitting on each other’s laps.”
Becker had hoped to offer medical assistance at local hospitals, but a lockdown in Lviv prevented that. Instead, they gave the supplies to a contact in the military for transport to the front lines and then headed back to Poland before returning to the United States. He praises the Polish people for welcoming Ukrainian refugees into their homes.
“The Polish people are amazing in how they are handling the crisis,” he says.
Becker isn’t sure if and when he’ll be able to return to the region to help, but he is certain he’ll keep sending supplies. He’s already received hundreds more pounds of medical supplies and other “daily need” items, including diapers, feminine hygiene products and pet food.
“There are shortages of everything, including in Poland,” he says. “My basement is filling up quickly.”
An emergency medicine physician who divides his time between California and Iowa, Becker has posted on his Facebook page information on how others can help, including Akina’s contact information and an extensive list of much-needed supplies.
“I want to do whatever I can to help people in this humanitarian crisis,” he says. “I’d like to leave the world a better place than I found it.”