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A small Utah-based nonprofit has been traveling to Ukraine refugee centers inside the war-torn country to deliver goods and necessities that haven’t been addressed by larger organizations.
“Where we see our niche is being able to get in there quickly, identify things that aren’t being done or that may not be addressed by the bigger organizations and then try to fill those needs,” Bruce Roberts, CEO of the humanitarian-focused nonprofit August Mission, told Fox News Digital.
The group was founded less than a year ago after U.S. forces pulled out of Afghanistan.
Roberts, who served as a member of the U.S. armed forces in Afghanistan and had friends there “felt like the way that we pulled out left a lot of people behind and created a tough situation for people that we had made promises to.” In order to try to live up to their commitments, Roberts, his former interpreter and a few others “started doing what we could to help get people out and to get humanitarian aid in.”
For Roberts, it felt like meaningful work.
“After retiring from the military I felt repurposed,” he said.
When the war in Ukraine erupted, Roberts knew what the next mission was going to be.
Roberts said the general mission in Ukraine was to support refugees and displaced persons and provide humanitarian assistance.
Although the group wouldn’t be able to feed a camp of a million refugees, Roberts knew they could “get into a refugee camp in Ukraine, ask them what they need and then deliver it.”
“That’s exactly what we’re doing,” he said. “We’re trying to be more surgical.”
By asking refugees and officials inside Ukraine what they need, the nonprofit can fill some “very specific needs for people” Roberts said. This includes items like refrigerators, washing machines, insulin and an ultrasound machine.
For instance, Roberts recalled a refugee center in Chernobyl asking for more refrigerators and more washing machines.
“We went to Warsaw, we bought them,” Roberts said. “They were very grateful that somebody was asking them the question instead of just throwing resources at the problem.”
The team would also bring doctors with them into Ukraine to address certain medical needs.
At one point, they took an optometrist to a refugee center, and they were able to help 100 people get glasses.
“He set up his portable kit outside the refugee center … All these people started coming,” Roberts said. “And they just needed glasses.”
Even though they have a small team, they have been continuously recruiting volunteers who are already on the ground in Europe.
They are currently setting up an office in Warsaw to better coordinate their efforts and the incoming support they are getting from local volunteers.