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.