Anchorage man returns from helping displaced Ukrainians

An Anchorage man, Dr. Scott Kirby, left the comfort of home and put himself into a war zone to help refugees in Ukraine.
Published: Apr. 12, 2022 at 8:31 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - An Anchorage man, Dr. Scott Kirby, left the comfort of home and put himself into a war zone to help refugees in Ukraine. During his relief efforts Kirby spent two weeks in Romania and Ukraine helping refugees and documenting his experience along the way.

In just a few words he was able to sum up what he captured in photos and videos. He said it breaks his heart to see “the senselessness of this war.”

“I can’t fix that, I can’t do anything about the war, but I can do something to help the homeless and the hungry refugees in this short-term period,” he said.

Kirby, has been visiting Ukraine and Romania for nearly 30 years. He even speaks a bit of the language. But this trip was different. With a strong connection to the country, he took it upon himself to share real stories from real people affected by the crisis.

“I wanted to hear their stories,” Kirby said. “I wanted to hear what is it really like right now ... to have to leave your country, running for your life, leaving your husband behind, ... not knowing if your home will ever be there, not knowing if you’ll ever be able to go back home.”

According to Kirby, grocery stores in the Ukraine have run out of food so a majority of his days would consist of back and forth trips between Ukraine and Romania to pick up food to bring back over the border. He also found himself helping with transportation needs, and helping provide basic food and supplies.

One such refugee, who was identified simply as Anya, spoke to Kirby about the challenges of explaining to her 4-year-old daughter what is happening in their homeland.

“She asks me, why did we leave home? I want to come back with family and friends in the garden — kid’s garden. I try to explain what happened,” Anya told Kirby in an interview he filed. “But it’s very difficult. It’s very difficult for me, but for kids I can’t explain.”

Anya isn’t the only one struggling. David Oros, a pastor in Ukraine, detailed stories of families grappling with activities often taken for granted.

“They would get fire outside and run into the basement,” Oros old Kirby. “And ... in like 10, 15 minutes somebody would run outside and check on the fire and would run back because it’s just — the bullets flying, and the rockets flying. So they would prepare food in this kind of condition. I mean this is just hard to hear how they were feeding themselves, trying to survive.”

Even after weeks overseas, Kirby says he’s already anxious to get back because to him, there’s still more work to do. As of now, he already has plans to go back to continue his efforts in the fall.

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