Updated: Apr 25, 2022
Thank you to everyone who has contacted me willing to support our direct material assistance at this crucial time. Here's a message from our partners in IF, the most heroic group of scouts:
Quick tactical update: Mariupol is holding–as you probably read by now, Russians are conceding to siege the city, which is ridiculous because it’s bombed worse than Sarajevo by 1994. Mykoliev, across the only bridge from Odesa is holding as well. They’re getting pounded every night, but Ukrainians are not giving up. They’re digging in. We have made contact with the frontline medical relief teams, so we have up to date information. No losses on our end, two vans were KIA this week–one cargo and one passenger. And we have new urgent requests for evacuation vans in the east as well.
What’s going on now is a double edged sword situation. The more the Ukrainians dig in, the more the Russians have to bombard, because they can’t make significant territorial gains. So between now and May 9th, the daily news are bound to be difficult to swallow.
Ask yourself, if money and aid were pouring into Ukraine, why would they be running a social media campaign to raise basic territorial defense needs, let alone civilian care. I'm happy that there has been an international agreement to provide $29B to Ukraine, but when will that be? Ukrainians need material assistance to rescue their people from the bombed-out towns and villages now...this can't wait until all the promised aid arrives. And it isn't arriving on time. Ukraininans are McGyvering, hacking every possible way to source or improvise the replacement of critical needs. And as you will read shortly, they recognize that we're reliable allies, so they're offering their support to make ours more successful. It's an incrdibly wonderful, positive human story of perseverence and ingenuity. Natacha is working on a documentary of pinkbus that will show scenes of this...
The doctors can do a lot with their hands. But they need clean steel (such as external fixators), they need medicine, and they need protection in responding to critical injuries in the warzone.
TO BE ABSOLUTELY CLEAR, WE ARE STILL A WHOLLY HUMANITARIAN OPERATION
We do not provide the military, and this is so that war crimes against our brave workers on the ground do not go unpunished, as the first defense in these post-humous international criminal court cases is that the killed are enemy combatants of one sort or another.
Lots in the pipeline:
I. Updated plan on frontline ambulances: T5s and Land Rovers
II. Update on medicine procumenent: Gorta Group partnership
IV. Gallery space, Curator gallery sponsor, Christie's and media
V. Collaborative web campaign with Ukrainian digital information ministry
Because of the road or lack of road conditions, vehicles go into Ukraine, as Natacha put perfectly, but they don’t go out…”Ukraine is where vehicles go to die.” So instead of spending large sums on suuped up armored ambulances, we are opting for more creative ways of assisting the Ukrainians in saving civilian lives.
Our Ukrainians partners insisted upon reviewing the prices and specs of vehicles that we use the funds in a smarter way and prefer to have more primitive vehicles that will do the job than a few that are current models…
Land rover defenders and VW T.5 cargo minivans. 4x4 offroad is the only real requirement. We are going to purchase used old ones en masse. All of this will be done in direct coordination between the UA and Lithuanian teams. Ukrainians will send the specs, Lithuanians will procure and prep. Since we have a partner with an actual business for retrofitting offroad expedition vehicles in Vilnius, this collab is made to order!
Why these vehicles: plentitude, affordability and reliable primitivity. The design of the defender hasn't really changed since the 1970s, and just like the VW Golf Series 2 in the Balkans, the Ukrainians say they know these vehicles, and they are picking the ones they can easily find spare parts for. Frontline doctors needs to be able to respond quickly as their teams oversee the field operation of dozens of medical units. The vehicles would also allow them to be quite fast in delivering aid, moving wounded out of harms way expediently.
One of the aid workers told me that they used banking armored vehicles for delivery of aid until the engine totally melted and fused the crankshaft. So you can imagine how much they’re having to push these vehicles.
Pictures of the new set of VW T5 cargo vans are coming. We wanted to send out some necessary fund to an organization in Kiev called KyivPride, and to Valera's evacuation mission in the northeast (he sent us the video I posted at the very top).
Some really great news. Especially to boost the confidence of the expanding circle of donors, who might not be personally connected us to any longer. Hopefully one day. The three heads of our operation met with the founder and directors of Gorta Group. Bob and Alex are awesome. Bob the founder is an old guard straight shooting Irish businessman turned philantropist. Very admirable charater. Gorta has been in every conflict zone including Bosnia since the 1960s, providing end-to-end guaranteed delivery of frontline medical aid. Just to give you an example, this week alone, they have procured and are delivering 15 mobile hospitals. Really incredible stuff--their shipments don't get lost. So, they're vetting us, because their credibility is pristine and we're a bunch of green weirdos. But, all that being said, they work together with us, and to get behind our operation pinkbus to give it institutional credibility. Like us, they're strict, and hold the line of what distinguishes humanitarian from military aid very clearly. More on this soon.
Raubouan Mouisson in Paris will exhibit and curate Natacha Merrit's collection. We even have an awesome space for the exhibit, graciously donated by the propriotor for our cause. Paris exhibit will preface the auction at Christie's.
Our Ukrainian partners want to help us with our campaign. The ministry of digital information offered to revamp operation pinkbus online presence...this is the team that just raised $10M for the state via social media.
Thank you all for your enthusiastic response to our campaign.
Wanted to share with you a video message of our vans at work we just received from our heroes on the ground.
“Ukrainians don’t need ibuprofen.” Anything over the counter they can procure internally. Their needs are much more specialized at the moment. Please don’t waste your money on “ibuprofen”…They need means to treat gunshot wounds, instruments to fix limbs in place for treatment and post-care, reanimators, collapsed-lung tools, E-IFAKs, specialized equipment for trauma and emergencies by the thousands. Not to mention just a better chance that they can rescue civilians under fire.
We have updated our original mission (see below for details):
Immediately: emergency life and limb saving measures and consumables
Immediately, also: armored personnel carriers, armored vehicles of any sort to assist in transporting wounded civilians from the warzone
In ten days or less: mobile hospital outfitting that can handle 100 wounded (60 heavily wounded)
Long term: rehabilitation center in the most stable greenzone (most likely Odesa)
Emergency medical equipment = $200
Armored vehicles = $200
Hospital = $270 minimum ($400 optimal)
Email me directly for wiring info. firstname.lastname@example.org
To make it absolutely clear, when we say armored vehicle this is what we mean:
Russians are using illegal explosives to inflict partial critical injury, there are mines littered everywhere, and we have a chance to save children’s lives, people’s futures, their limbs–hands, arms, legs and feet…
Given what’s happening in Mykolai and Kharkiv, we are shifting our efforts to maximize impact. We have a direct line of communication with the medical command in Ukraine. We will supply them and they will put it to use.
As you can see below, the front is moving, and the Russians are bombing the sector west of Kharkhiv in anticipation of qualified relief, so we have had to adapt our strategy. Donetsk stronghold remains intact, but with a questionable near-future. But, south of Kharkiv is holding, and so is Mariupol despite the encirclement. All this means more wounded, more casualties…
The first image is a map from April 16, and the second one is from April 18, and third from April 19.
We must provide outfitted emergency vehicles that can withstand the stress of the warzone, accumulate a reserve of medical goods for frontline relief, support secure delivery of goods and protection of civilian evacuations, and provide assistance in creating mobile, field hospitals able to respond to the changing map.
By now, many of you know how this works. Tell us what you want your money to go to, and we will make it happen, be sure to let us know if you want to stay anonymous.
We are so lucky to have the institutionally robust real partners to help us do this..We are partnering with a group that will handle logistics deep into UA as we need it, they come with a contract guarantee. And the Ukrainian medical group will handle the medical outfitting and in-UA procurement and distribution. All we need to do is supply them–and it’s all c3 compatible :)
All we need to do is send money down the pipeline.
IT COSTS $75 TO SAVE A LIMB using stainless steel fixators.
The Ukrainians need minimum 1000 of these fixators. They’ve got incredible doctors who can mend and repair with very little, they just need the tools.
The mission at its core is still the same: provide the Ukrainian people, their professionals on the ground, with the tools and resources to save lives.
Mykolai and Khakhiv are of primary concern at the moment This is what we have heard from every source on the ground. It’s going to get a lot worse in the coming days and weeks…I’m afraid to think that it might get worse until May 9th if the Russians aren’t relieved before.
This money will go to the direct purchase and delivery of the equipment needed right now. Compound Eyes Foundation will handle the legal responsibility to facilitate our work.
We can save so many lives if we can gather these resources as soon as possible–infections, internal bleeding, lung punctures, and the incessant cold…these are like large countdown clocks. We can help save thousands almost overnight with the kind of concerted effort our allies on the ground are ready for the tools and resources to do it.
Our operating structure is now fully ready to accept c3 donations. Natacha Merritt graciously put her nonprofit foundation at our disposal for gathering and shipping the funds to our partners on the ground. Please make any donations to Operation Pinkbus through Compound Eyes Foundation. The wiring instruction is below.
We were able to raise enough for three ambulances, a critical number necessary for evacuations in the north. Thanks to our American partners for making this happen. Since last Tuesday the situation has deteriorated so quickly that the Ukrainians asked us if we could redirect the funds for ambulances to armored vehicles, medical supplies, etc.
I secured the shipment of type-4 armor from a UK dealer. We have found volunteers willing to transport the goods closer to where it’s easy for our partners to ship it further down the line. Stefano C., who is doing so much already to get the word out as well as finalize the sculpture project, graciously donated to cover half of the cost.
We have been tracking the development of the situation in the south, and we have a solid plan in place for rapid emergency relief. We have a hub in IF, which we have assist in reinforcing during the start of the last op. That hub will receive all the goods–from Poland and Slovakia most likely. In Slovakia in particular we are establishing a working partnership with an organization that is known for delivering medical goods across a very wide spectrum for emergency relief in warzones. We have a two prong approach to solving the medical equipment sourcing issues: Everything that can be sourced in UA stays that way; Everything that cannot goes through our procurement and distro partners.
It was a shared experience across…everyone runs their own end-to-end operations because they couldn’t trust others, especially big NGOs, not even their own health or interior ministries to respond in kind or due time. We quickly came together around measurable direct impact and I am genuinely excited at the opportunity in front of us to save so many lives. This was my farthest hope for operation pinkbus; that it serves as a testament of goodwill so that when the needs increased and we got involved again, we would have the credibility to work directly with large suppliers and leaders saving lives on the ground.
In terms of mobile field hospitals, we were working with a group of expert doctors from Israel that took it upon themselves to think the design through, and sketch out the necessary parts of the design. We have a list of necessary equipment and medication. Last night we made contact with the field doctor in charge of medical training and procurement in the south, who wrote the initial plan and procurement list. He’s an amazing person, a training doctor who immediately recognized what we were trying to do. With his leadership coordination on the ground, we have the three necessary pieces to help Ukrainians save thousands of lives.
Everyone else seems to be on island time or something…the problem with every passing day of war is that it gets further normalized, to the point where we might even think that it must be over, must be better now, or that someone else took care of it. I would love to drop my operation right now at the news that the Europeans are sending $1 billion worth of military and medical aid…but I can’t. The announcement doesn’t mean delivery, it doesn’t mean even that logistical lines have been figured out to know where to send what. Command on the ground rarely relies on far-elements out of necessity and integrity of the plan.
The Red Cross pulled out of Mariupol after the first week without even securing a green corridor. The UN pulled out their forces, with all of their fancy APCs at the same time. The Ukrainians have been using bank vans as armored vehicles to get people out from under fire. And the fire isn’t going to stop any time soon, which means, to save lives we have to get these vehicles first.
We can help them now if you want to.
To close on a positive note, we just had a full-circle experience. At the beginning of our original mission we went after the bureaucratic nightmare of evacuating and safehousing Ukrainian state-children (orphans) in Europe. Koleba’s team in Buscha today were able to evacuate the remaining orphans we were desperately trying to get out. 60 children are currently traveling to Poland, where they will meet a Belgian representative and fly there together. The Flemish state will provide for the children, and the adults accompanying them. Both groups are heavily traumatized given what they witnessed in Buscha, but the Belgians are eager to put their state resources to full use. When everyone was saying it was impossible, our partners dug up old 1986 Chernobyl child-protection schemas as precedents…Others in politics are lining up to take credit for this, but we were there and we will be there to remember and celebrate the fact that an amazing group of women is responsible for saving countless lives, thinking through how to deliver aid or bypass bureaucratic impasse.