MSF Visit to Ukraine – Dan Cnossen’s Reflections

Ukraine Trip

After a week inside Ukraine, visiting Lviv, Kyiv and the Ukrainian Paralympic training center in the Carpathian mountains with the Mountain Seed Foundation, several memories come to mind:

  • Witnessing multi-limb amputees hard at work at the Superhumans rehabilitation center in Lviv to reclaim functionality in their lives;
  • Listening to a young female Ukrainian lawyer-turned-combat paramedic talk about her experiences evacuating civilians in frontline areas, and how during rotations away from the front she seeks refuge in the Carpathian mountains; 
  • Touring the Paralympic division of the Ukrainian Ministry of Sport to learn about how inspirational athletes with disabilities can be to their nation as well as to the world, demonstrating fighting spirit and victory on the fields of competition;
  • Watching Ukrainian kids climb at an indoor rock gym and outside at a hilltop 70-foot rock face with enthusiasm and energy, as their mothers watch with pride and speak with their peers;
  • Chatting informally with a young Ukrainian Member of Parliament in a restaurant about the political and strategic situation and challenges his country faces, and then discussing how and where Mountain Seed Foundation can develop camps inside the country to facilitate healing of injured veterans and their families through mountain retreats; 
  • Playing pool at the Paralympic Western Training Center with a 20yr old Ukrainian soldier who was paralyzed at the front nine months ago. Learning that his father is missing in action, his two brothers are currently at the front, and one of his best friends, a major in the Ukrainian army, was killed yesterday. Hearing him talk about the hard days, not being able ever to walk again, but also seeing his eagerness to train to make the Ukrainian Paralympic biathlon team. 

The strength of Ukrainian gold star mothers and families was evident to me after experiencing the Mountain Seed Foundation’s healing base camp in 2023. Now, after visiting Ukraine this week, it’s clear that on a broader scale this is a special country with a determined youth. 

There is a necessary focus here on the present task at hand—on doing what it takes to win. At the Mountain Seed Foundation, we have the luxury of being able to think and plan further ahead, to prepare the way for the physical and emotional healing which will be necessary when the sound of battle recedes. This is an urgent task and we must marshal the resources to do what we can to help those in need. 

Dan Cnossen, MSF board member 

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Healing Base Camp: Planting Seeds Of Hope To Restore What War Has Stolen
As the fight inside Ukraine continues, many families continue to endure the physical and psychological burdens of war. The cost of this war will be realized for generations to come, but WE CAN HELP.