HORSEPOWER - Locals use a simple cart to get around their village. Many areas of the Ukraine that Medical Mercy Canada works in are rural and are dependant on horses for transportation. Even medical personnel depend on these carts to get around.

HORSEPOWER - Locals use a simple cart to get around their village. Many areas of the Ukraine that Medical Mercy Canada works in are rural and are dependant on horses for transportation. Even medical personnel depend on these carts to get around.

Residents head to Ukraine to provide medical assistance

Dr. Leighton Nishuk and Warren Kreway join with Medical Mercy Canada

Two Lacombe men are getting ready to make a difference in the country of their heritage.

On May 1, Lacombians Dr. Leighton Nishuk and Warren Kreway will be leaving to spend a month in Ukraine as part of a mission trip with Medical Mercy Canada.

Nishuk has been doing mission trips to the Ukraine with Medical Mercy Canada for about five years now.

He first became exposed to the organization through a presentation done by one of his peers who was working with Medical Mercy Canada on the borders of Burma.

As both Nishuk’s parents were born in the Ukraine, he has a strong family heritage with the country and when he heard Medical Mercy Canada did mission trips there as well, he decided to get involved.

Kreway has never been to the Ukraine before, but also has a family heritage there.

Kreway got involved with the trips through Nishuk, who he has known for many years. While Kreway has done several mission trips to Africa over the years, he is looking forward to his first trip in the Ukraine.

“I always found it very interesting,” said Kreway.

Nishuk said the basic purpose of the trip is to assess what the medical staff at the clinics and hospitals need and assist them in obtaining those resources.

He added that medical personnel are actually quite well trained and do a good job with what equipment is provided to them.

“Their medical training, both in the doctors and nurses that I’ve seen, is really quite good,” said Nishuk. “They really care for their patients. They just don’t have the supplies and they don’t have the buildings and they don’t have anywhere close to what we have here.”

As he does not have any official medical training, Kreway will be using his mechanical and carpentry skills to assist with repairing and maintaining some of the structural challenges many of these clinics are faced with.

He will also be performing some public relations work with the communities being visited.

Many of the places Nishuk and Kreway will be visiting are places Nishuk has been visiting each year since he started these trips.

Nishuk said he continues his involvement with Medical Mercy Canada year after year because he gets to see the improvements made at the clinics after each visit.

“People tell us, ‘I’ll show you what we did’, and so they show us these things, and they are excited about it,” said Nishuk. “It’s just very satisfying.”

For Kreway, this trip holds special significance for his family. He said it serves as a way for him to learn more about his background and Ukrainian heritage.

Kreway said his father never spoke about his life or family in the Ukraine and was always very secretive about it.

Recently, Kreway discovered a baptismal certificate from an uncle that has opened some paths for him to learn more about his family and he plans to do some research while in the Ukraine.

“I actually get to research the exact church where this baptismal certificate is from, in Bucovinie,” said Kreway. He added that one of the other doctors on the trip is from the Bucovinie area originally and has agreed to show Kreway around the area during the trip.

While Nishuk has been doing these trips for years and even this year’s trip was planned long before the Ukrainian crisis broke out, both he and Kreway said that the trip holds special significance now in light of all that has happened.

“I think it’s very important,” said Nishuk.

“People want to know that they’re still important. We still support them. I think it’s a morale booster to them to know that their friends are still with them.”

Kreway said, in light of recent events, he is a little more concerned about safety.

However, some changes have been made to the trip to most of the activity within areas of the Ukraine that are not so volatile and he is still looking forward to the opportunity.

“This is an absolute calling to me,” said Kreway. “I’m very committed to it, there is no question.”

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