Chicago Medical Student with Family in Ukraine Organizes Relief Effort

A Ukrainian medical student who immigrated to Chicago is organizing a way for his peers to donate humanitarian supplies to his war-torn homeland.

Rush University medical student Dmytro Mysak left Ukraine with his parents when he was 3 years old, but still has family living there. Since Russia invaded Ukraine three weeks ago, more than three million Ukrainians have fled the country.

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On Thursday afternoon, Mysak was looking over hygiene products, warm clothing and other supplies donated by faculty, staff and students of Rush University Medical College.

“Given the recent situation, I felt basically, a calling,” Mysak said. “I felt personal responsibility that I needed to do something to help out the people over there in Ukraine.”

Sharon Gates, Rush University’s director of student diversity and community engagement, said the organization was already donating clinical supplies to Ukraine through the humanitarian nonprofit Project C.U.R.E., but employees wanted to assist Ukraine on a personal level.

“Yes, they’ll donate monetarily to the efforts that we’ve identified,” Gates said. “But they wanted to have some skin in the game, so we saw an opportunity for the humanitarian relief effort.”

When Gates heard Mysak was organizing Ukraine relief efforts in west suburban Bensenville, she tapped the 24-year-old first-year medical student to assist the university’s efforts.

“I brought us all beautifully together and just like a symphony, we went to work,” Gates said.

Gates said their partner, humanitarian organization World Relief Chicagoland, will ship the supplies on Monday to Poland, where she hopes they’ll arrive by March 25 to support refugees.

Video: Dmytro Mysak joins “Chicago Tonight” March 22, 2022. 

Mysak said he has grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins living in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, near the Polish border.

“They’re over in the west side of the country, so it’s a little bit calmer over there, but it’s still a day-to-day situation,” Mysak said. “It’s something that the family over here in the U.S., we’re watching the news every day, just to make sure that they’re safe. We’re calling them frequently, so it’s nerve-wracking for us and I’m sure it’s absolutely devastating for them.”

Mysak said the everyday items they’re donating to Poland are invaluable to wartime refugees.

“If you’re a refugee over there, you’re grabbing whatever you can carry and then you’re fleeing the country,” Mysak said. “So they need basic supplies, things to keep them going day-by-day.”

The more than three million refugees displaced from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to Europe’s fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War II, according to the UN.

Rush University said anyone interested in volunteering or contributing to the university’s relief efforts should contact its Rush Community Service Initiatives Program.

Note: This story was originally published March 17. It has been updated to include our “Chicago Tonight” conversation. 

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