NewsMontana and Regional News


Helena woman recounts experience helping people in Ukraine

Valerie Hellerman, the director of Hands On Global
Posted at 7:28 PM, Apr 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-08 21:29:25-04

HELENA — About a month ago, the non-profit agency Hands On Global of Helena sent its first team to Ukraine to offer basic healthcare to people affected by the war.

Valerie Hellerman, the director of Hands On Global, spent four weeks in Ukraine and is now back in Helena.

Hellermann’s team of healthcare professionals crossed the Romanian border into western Ukraine, providing medication for chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and thyroid issues.

Hellermann says that, from what she could tell, Hands On Global was the only non-governmental organization that was actually going into the government-provided shelters and setting up a clinic, instead of making the people come to them.

The Hands On Global team were constantly reminded of the death and destruction just miles away.

“We would be in a clinic and we'd hear the air raid sirens, and somebody would come in and say, ‘You know, you need to go down to the bomb shelter,’ and we would just drop everything and go to the bomb shelter. And sometimes we would be there for three hours,” says Hellermann.

Hellermann says that they only allow their members to help in such conflict zones for a maximum of 28 days because of the high amounts of stress. So, in order to be a constant helping presence, they have staggered teams that overlap by a week. Currently, the second team is in Ukraine. The plan is to keep teams in the area through the end of May. And ideally, if peace is reached, they will send a different kind of team to help with frontline injuries.

“We’ll bring some trauma surgeons, some plastic surgeons, orthopedic surgeons, and we'll work on mental health care and rehabilitation. There's a lot of very terrible injuries.” said Hellermann.

Click here to visit the Hands On Global website.