When the war in Ukraine started, I asked myself if I could do anything to help. I have no friends or family in Ukraine, but I remember that a couple of years ago, I was interviewed by someone from Donetsk.
When I got in touch with Alexander Padalka, he was hiding underground from the daily shelling and bombing, and for months, he was surviving on rotten food and dirty water.
Alex had lost a lot of weight, and his health was deteriorating. On top of it all, he is legally blind because he has retinis pigmentosa, which is an eye disease where one can have some peripheral vision but looking straight ahead he is completely blind.
Given his dire situation, Alex told me he was ready to die because he had no idea if or how he could stay alive, let alone escape.
But that was my opportunity to help.
I shared his story with my network, and a very generous person reached out. Now, I can’t share many details of this dangerous operation. All I can say is that some brave people risked their lives to get Alex out. His rescue cost 54,000 USD to put into motion and we had no guarantee of success. But after a month of planning, we were able to get Alex out of Donetsk and into Poland.
In Warsaw, we connected Alex to generous people who set him up with a place to live and three hot meals per day. They even paid for him to visit many doctors, including eye specialists, because after his ordeal Alex was very weak and had lost even his peripheral vision.
Now the good news is that after several months of eating good food, drinking clean water, and sleeping in a safe place, Alex has recovered his health and even a tiny part of his peripheral vision. But we are hoping we can help more.
Alex has already had two ultraviolet corneal cross-linking surgeries, and, most recently, he did an $800 DNA test. The test results will take a couple of months, but we hope a new adenovirus genetic treatment could help him recover some or most of his eyesight.
The problem is that it costs well over 10,000 Euros, and everyone involved has already spent thousands and given as much as we can. So, unfortunately, we have run out of money.
Do you know anyone who has lost sight?
Can you imagine being blind and bombed for weeks and months?
Can you imagine hiding underground while eating rotten food and drinking dirty water?
Can you imagine being a blind war refugee in a foreign country while your only hope to see again costs tens of thousands of euros you don’t have?
That is what Alex has to deal with.
Yet he never complains and is never angry or upset. Somehow, he always has the strength to smile and stay happy. I have no idea how he manages, but that’s inspiring to me. So, while initially, I thought I was helping Alex, I now feel that he has helped me become a better person through his example of joy and gratitude. Furthermore, Alex has silently reminded me that when we help others, we also help ourselves because, as the poet, Rumi says, “you are another version of me; I am another version of you.” So, I know I have gained at least as much from helping Alex as he has gained from getting help.
Now, you can say that Alex is just one person and the whole country of Ukraine needs help. And this is true. But a country consists of individual people, and Alex is one very good person who needs our help now. Plus, we know what to do. We know where we can do it. And we know how to do it. All we need is your help to get it done.
We promise that all donations will go directly to Alex’s bank account in Poland, and neither I nor anyone else will have access. Thus, with your help, I believe that a month from now, right on time for Xmas and in the spirit of giving, we can give Alex the chance to see again.
That is why I feel very privileged to be a small part of a group of generous people helping him for the past six months.
I am proud to say that we managed to save his life.
Please join us and help save his sight: https://gogetfunding.com/help-a-ukrainian/
Thank you very much in advance!