International crises require global help and support, and Baylor College of Medicine is working to provide aid where it can.
Russia invaded Ukraine in February which has left the country and its citizens in continuing need of healthcare and supplies for nearly six months. Dr. Mollie Gordon, associate professor in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, organized a relief drive throughout the month of May, encouraging individuals to donate necessary items, as well as healthcare supplies for the Ukrainian crisis.
“Like any area in conflict or crisis, basic needs and safety are first and foremost. There remains a need for supplies and care, and resources become more and more limited as people move out of the country,” Gordon said.
For months, Gordon worked on the Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Technical Working Group taskforce for Ukraine, which consisted of weekly meetings with international leaders in the mental health space to strategize how to help the population. She partnered with Medical Bridges, an organization dedicated to helping communities have access to quality healthcare, to gather medical and hygiene supplies to send to Ukraine.
With the help of medical students, Gordon set up a drop-off site at the main Baylor campus for people to donate supplies. Houstonians could also drop off supplies, like deodorant, shampoo, diapers and wipes, at the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center (ERJCC). The Baylor community donated 2,000 individual items, including gauze, bandages, wraps and first-aid kits, in the span of four weeks, and the drive generated a total of 12,000 items.
“I was looking for a space that was near the medical center that could hold a large volume of donation and supplies. The ERJCC was already involved in raising funds for Ukraine at a national level, so I asked if we could piggyback onto the work they were doing on a local scale,” Gordon said. “All items that were collected were sent to Medical Bridges, and they triaged them to nonprofits and healthcare systems in Ukraine.”
According to Gordon, students are always interested in how they can get involved with international work. She runs an elective for medical students within the division of global mental health, so she involved two of them to participate in humanitarian efforts for Ukraine: Evelyn Tran and Ila Gautham. They hope their contributions will provide support to Ukrainians in need.
“As a student, it is difficult to witness world atrocities and maintain focus on our medical studies. There is a feeling of hopelessness when we desperately want to help but do not yet have tangible medical skills to offer,” Gautham said. “Channeling our energy into this relief drive felt like a small, meaningful way to contribute as we witness the plight of the Ukrainian people.”
Medical Bridges is located near the Texas Medical Center and provides supply relief for international crises in their warehouses. Gordon recommends partnering with the nonprofit for those who are interested in supporting any international relief efforts.
Gordon and Dr. Sophia Banu are continually collecting supplies like food, clothing and other basic items for the Alliance Wellness Clinic, which supports refugees in resettling and receiving mental health services.
“Just because the drive is over doesn’t mean there is less need. There is always a humanitarian crisis that needs help and support,” she said. “This is just the beginning of continuous efforts and supporting international populations in need.”
By Homa Shalchi