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PODCAST: Darrell McKay updates humanitarian crisis from war-torn Ukraine

TODAY IN B.C: Fundraises for stretchers, food, basic supplies
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Darrell McKay, a retired engineer from Campbell River and actively involved in humanitarian efforts, chats with host Peter McCully from Ukraine.

McKay, on his fifth trip to the war-torn region, provides a first-hand account of the dire conditions faced by the people.

From sitting on the front stoop of a safehouse near the front line to witnessing the devastating impact of drone warfare, McKay shares stories of resilience and heroism amid the ongoing conflict.

“I’m sitting in the front stoop of a safe house, 20 kilometers away from the front line. I can’t say where it is right now. Just can’t give away the identity of the house. But it’s close enough that there’s mortars coming in and constant air raids.”

McKay discovered stretchers were in short supply, leaving Ukrainian soldiers with a crude alternative: dragging bodies using a rope in a figure-eight pattern. Determined to make a difference, McKay focused on the positive and initiated a fundraising campaign. To date he has purchased 500 stretchers to aid the soldiers on the front lines.

“I’m amazed. I’m at the total now of donated money up to $55,000,” said McKay. “I’ve had a lot of people show faith in me to deliver the goods. The organization that I’m working with it’s called Ukrainian Patriot and has let me directly spend the money. So, there’s no middleman. In the grocery store a few weeks ago. I spent $3,000. $3,000 made up 350 food bags.”

McKay says a food bag will feed a couple for 5 or 6 days.

“We’ve dispersed those along the way, and these are internally displaced people, some of them don’t have homes, some are staying in rec centres, some are sleeping on cots and offices, they don’t have homes anymore,” he said. “That was money donated by people that heard your podcast, saw my Facebook.”

McKay tells McCully mortar fire and land mines and are part of the active warfare as well as the use of drones.

“The drone warfare has changed things beyond belief,” he said. “It’s not like sitting there shooting guns at each other and mortar firing tanks. These little things can go 100 km/h. There’s no outrunning them. There’s no hiding from them.”

McKay is also working with a documentary crew, focused on the efforts of Ukraine Patriot.

You can find out more about McKay’s efforts see photos of his travels on his Facebook page.

If you have suggestions or comments, send a voice message to podcast@blackpress.ca you may be part of our audio podcast mailbag segment.

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Peter McCully

About the Author: Peter McCully

Peter has been a broadcaster and publisher on both of Canada’s coasts and has owned a small newspaper and run an advertising agency along the way.
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