A group of students from Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine has created a campaign to collect donations for people impacted by Russia’s devastating attack on Ukraine.

Campaign launched by OUWB medical students to help Ukraine
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A group of students from Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine has created a campaign to collect donations for people impacted by Russia’s devastating attack on Ukraine.

“OU for Ukraine” was started by a group of students with connections to Ukraine, the U.S. military, or others who say they can’t help but feel compelled to do something for people impacted by Russia’s attack on the country.

OUWB student organizations involved are Friends of MSF (MSF) — a student club at OUWB that supports the work of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières — and Advocates for Global Health and Human Rights (AGHHR). Students from the Oakland University School of Health Sciences Physical Therapy Program also are participating.

Through April 25, the campaign is working with Farmington Hills-based Global Health Charities to collect financial donations via the nonprofit’s website, PayPal, or Venmo.

The campaign also is collecting hygiene kits and clothing in OUWB’s Student Lounge in O’Dowd Hall, among other places.

Prasun Sharma, M2, says he grew up in Nepal during a civil war. Later, as a medic in the U.S. Army, he helped people in North Carolina and Puerto Rico in the aftermath of hurricanes. Having seen the resulting damage of tragic events previously moved him to do something to help those affected by the current situation in Ukraine.

“I’ve seen a lot of these volunteer and donation campaigns and they help a lot,” he said. “What the people of Ukraine are going through right now…they’re going to need that kind of help.”

The fact that the campaign will benefit Ukrainian refugees who have recently travelled to the U.S. is just one of many important aspects of the campaign for Elizabeth Carlson, M1, and one of the campaign organizers.

“There actually have been a lot of Ukrainian refugees that made it to the U.S., which is great,” says Carlson. “But many of them were able to only bring the clothes they had on.”

AGHHR President Marisa Stratelak, M2, says she has a personal connection to Ukraine. She says she has distant relatives in the country and that it’s “really frustrating” and “very, very, very hurtful to see everything that’s going on.”

“I am half-Ukrainian…so this one definitely hits closer to home for me,” she says.

“When Elizabeth and Prasun approached us asking for help, I absolutely wanted to put full support behind whatever they wanted.”

Stratelak has been involved in helping spread awareness of the campaign in select locations within Beaumont Health buildings. AGHHR also is using some of funds for hygiene kits that will be donated to the effort.

Mary Drekh, M2, president of OUWB’s MSF, says she has family in Syria that’s been affected by the ongoing civil war in that country. She, too, says it was important to support OUWB’s relief effort for Ukraine.

“I know the destruction that war can bring on and it has been horrifying to see what is happening in Ukraine,” she says.

MSF is setting up a night to assemble hygiene kits and also donating funds to the campaign.

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“When tragedies like this happen, most of us want to help so badly and immediately, but still feel so powerless because it’s the other side of the world,” says Drekh. “Coming together like this as a community has been a great way to make an organized effort that allows anyone to help.”

Carlson says even though the campaign is just starting, the fact that the OUWB community is working together to do what it can to help already means the effort is paying off.

“Everyone is extremely willing to help, and glad we’re doing this…it’s brought our community together,” she says.

Sharma says the effort truly reflects OUWB values.

“One of our school’s major focus is about community and coming together to help each other,” he says. “When we started, we didn’t know how far we could go…now we have several different organizations trying to help us.

“We’re utilizing every resource we can…it’s not just about how much we collect, but how far can we get this word out and how many people are willing to help,” he adds.

To contribute to the campaign, visit https://www.globalhealthcharities.org/donatehere/.

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, marketing writer, OUWB, at [email protected].

To request an interview, visit the OUWB Communications & Marketing webpage.

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