While most people are planning their vacations, Arnold resident James Screven is planning his mission trip to Ukraine. With the Ukrainian people in a fight for their lives and way of life, Screven knew he wanted to help.
“I saw the Ukrainians’ fight to keep their democracy likened to our own fight to maintain our democracy,” Screven said.
From June 26 until the end of July, Screven will visit Ukraine for the first time to provide medical assistance to war victims in partnership with the group Mission Kharkiv (MK).
Since the Russian invasion, the border city of Kharkiv in the northeast of Ukraine has come under constant attack from Russian forces. The victims of the ongoing conflict aren’t solely those killed, injured or displaced by the shelling. They’re those impacted by supply chain disruptions. One of the most threatening of interruptions is access to medications.
Since the war began, MK has delivered more than 140 tons of medication to the Kharkiv region, individually controlled and distributed it to more than 60,000 patients, supplied 31 hospitals and evacuated 45 cancer patients to other areas in Europe.
“As a winterization response, MK supplied solid-fuel heaters to vulnerable families whose households suffered damage from the attacks,” Mission Kharkiv founder Rostislav Filippenko said.
In addition, Filippenko noted how MK constructed a cold-chain warehouse to facilitate logistics for chemotherapy medication in the region of Kharkiv.
Currently, Screven is gathering medical supplies to aid civilian victims of landmines and bombs that are disguised to look like toys. During his trip, he will work with Filippenko, first assembling the 100 landmine response kits, and then delivering the kits to different parts of Ukraine. Screven will also provide training on the contents of the kits to new first responders.
“I knew I needed to do more than just gather supplies and ship them off to some address,” Screven said.
For his upcoming trip, no medical background is needed.
Originally from New York, Screven is now an assistant principal at Chesapeake Math and IT (CMIT) Academy Middle School, a public charter school in Laurel. CMIT Academy is part of the Prince George's County Public School System.
“I began my teaching career 28 years ago in New York and moved to Maryland 10 years ago to work for the Department of Homeland Security after my school in New York was closed due to funding,” Screven said.
Following the Department of Homeland Security, he worked for the Maryland judiciary’s education department. Afterward, Screven returned to public school teaching in 2015 at CMIT Academy.
Screven noted how the Prince George's County community answered warmly and generously.
He had one student — Troy Brooks — who raised more than $1,100 worth of supplies by canvassing doctor's offices, local first responders and the Prince George’s County 911 dispatchers, along with family and friends. However, more is needed. So, he is now turning to the Anne Arundel County community to begin the process of assembling the next group of kits.
A list of needed medical supplies, including the associated links to Amazon, can be found at www.assistance4ukraine.org or by calling 410-320-1487.
“Any medical supplies they can provide will go directly to help save the lives of innocent civilian men, women and children who are simply looking to survive this unprovoked invasion of their country and assault on the right to sovereignty,” Screven said.
Tax-deductible donations to Mission Kharkiv can also be made at donorsee.com/missionkharkiv.