Donor Update, Wk. 7: Dialogues
Sent 17 Jan 2023
Dear donors and friends,
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” – Plato, ca. 400 BCE
‘Dialogues’ is the name given to the consolidated body of Plato’s work. It is thus called because Plato wrote almost all of his work in the form of conversations between various characters. In his mind, it appears, this conversational method of pursuing knowledge was the most likely to arrive at true conclusions. In my own experience, that is not such a bad conclusion. It takes some time to introduce all of the various perspectives on a particular issue and then to strive to reconcile them into some kind of synthesis which approaches truth. But in the long run, someone who is willing to consider all of the varying opinions on an issue (think Lincoln’s ‘Team of Rivals‘) is more likely to make wise decisions.
Thus, it has been a week of dialogues, of conversations, and of synthesizing various perspectives. Another visit to the Kherson region discussing possible sites for a humanitarian center. The visit of my friend and advisor Sean “Angus” MacKinnon to offer his thoughts on the present situation. Discussions with local partners and friends about the best next steps for this growing organization. I feel humbled to be in the midst of it, integrating, learning, and making decisions which will ripple down through coming years in ways I cannot possibly anticipate. I am deeply grateful for the donations and support which make it possible for me to do this work.
Of $4,093 collected so far, we’ve spent $1,744.36, receipts for which can be found on our website at the following link:
The two outlays we made this week were for gasoline to the Kherson region for further meetings with local administrators and volunteers, discussing a humanitarian center in the area, and for fruit and cookies for the Odesa Psychiatric Hospital on Saturday as always. Thanks to everyone for your generosity.
Monday and Tuesday this week were filled with meetings and their resultant dialogues. On Monday we (not the “royal we,” as Sean was with me all week) met with an organization called Techfugees, which supports displaced persons across the world with technology solutions, and another called Be An Angel, which supports the evacuation of Ukrainians from front-line areas as well as the supply of medical supplies to hospitals near the front lines. It was great to discuss potential collaboration with these organizations as well as to learn from their experience during this long war. On Tuesday we met with the wonderful local NGO Plich o Plich (“Side by Side” or “Shoulder to Shoulder”), which has done evacuations from front-line areas and also provides shelter and humanitarian assistance in Odesa city. They are a really extraordinary organization and I am so grateful for their help. Tuesday also included a meeting with our lawyers at Troutman Pepper, who are generously donating their pro bono time to help us register as a non-profit organization in the United States.
Wednesday, as well as Friday, were filled with detailed planning sessions with my advisor and friend Sean. He has worked in the humanitarian aid field for many years, in a variety of positions, and we were able to dialogue about a variety of potential options and challenges which could arise in the coming months. It was so wonderful to have him here, for a variety of reasons, but in particular I appreciated the deep perspective he brought from his vast experience in over ten countries, including more than six months in Ukraine at various times in the past.
Then, on Thursday, we made another visit to the Kherson region. With the help of local partners at Plich o Plich, I have been searching for several weeks for an appropriate location in that region for a base of operations or humanitarian center. While we have met some wonderful people and had some great conversations, both the local partners and I have agreed that nothing has quite “gelled” yet. On Thursday, we may have discovered a potential base of operations. There are many dialogues to be held yet, but in Muzykivka, they offered a location with a bomb shelter and good shelter, with an existing volunteer network, and even ran up the American flag on the administration building for our arrival:
It will be exciting to see what happens in the region. Regardless, I am so grateful to the volunteers who have made all of this work possible and who continue to work day in and day out to ensure that kids have education, families have shelter, and individuals have food.
On Saturday we had our regular distribution in the Odesa Psychiatric Hospital. For the last two weeks, our regular coordinator for the visits has been visiting potential donors in Western Europe, so the task of leading the operation has fallen to a tandem team of a local Ukrainian volunteer (Alisa) and myself. Without connections in the hospital and without experience in the operation, we have nevertheless managed to pull off smooth distributions both weeks. I am so grateful to the volunteers, local and international, who show up every week to make this sweet experience possible with the sweet residents of the psychiatric hospital:
Sunday was sweet. With Sean and a friend from the UK, I attended the Odesa Philharmonic performance of Strauss’s waltzes &tc. To be seated in a packed audience during a war, during a blackout, and to have LED lights suddenly switched on, powered by a generator, and the orchestra there awaiting us… they played with panache. With style. With love. We applauded and applauded. Got four encores out of them. It was truly marvelous. A beautiful end to the week. I am so grateful to be here.
Dignity Aid Blog: More Donor Updates Online
The updates from weeks 4 and 5 have been posted on our blog at the following link. Feel free to share the website with friends and family or to forward any of these emails.
I might also recommend our Facebook or Instagram page for your perusal when you have a moment!
Sending love to all. I have seen so many tears and so many smiles over the past 7 weeks. I feel we are changing lives. Together. Thank you.