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Encinitas man collecting and delivering medical aid to Ukraine

Bruce Talley, a businessman from Encinitas, has been visiting Ukraine for as long as he can remember. He and his family used to live in Russia, and, back then, Ukraine was a fun getaway destination. Now, he visits to bring aid to a country being continually attacked by the country he once called home.

"You see the children, you see the women crying in the train stations and in the trains as you travel across Poland and throughout Ukraine," he said during a recent interview while he was in Ukraine. "And you hear the stories. ... Virtually every person that I spoke to in Ukraine, virtually every person has some sort of tragedy that has touched them."

Talley has been taking much-needed medical supplies to people in desperate need of medical care, and shared his journey with KPBS.

In Lviv he met Oleg, a volunteer, who described just how much the aid is needed in hospitals.

"It's critical: They're full of wounded people," he said. "The main local hospital in Lviv is overloaded with patients, to the degree that they do surgery in the toilet."

Oleg said the donated supplies Talley was delivering were priceless, because you can't buy them anywhere. "Imagine we require everything, starting with very specialized medicine for those surgeries and emergencies and finishing with first aid medical kits for soldiers or things like supplies like bandages and tourniquets that’s very, very much in demand everywhere," Oleg said.

Talley’s other goal is to bring temporary housing to Ukraine. Everywhere he went buildings were destroyed and uninhabitable. "I don’t even know if anyone has a real good bead yet on how many people don’t have homes anymore," Talley said. "So many of these towns have been destroyed."

In larger cities such as Kharkiv, where the Russians had stopped shelling, he said the shelling had started up again in civilian areas. A strike hit near where Talley was visiting. There he spoke with a volunteer named Yevnhen, who was traumatized by what he saw.

"Were a lot of civilians killed here?" Talley asked Yevnhen, who replied: "A lot, I saw at least me, I saw five in the flat, burning in the flat just from the bombs. ... I saw five, actually I don’t recommend to everyone to see what I saw before in this war."

Talley said he would continue to make the trips as long as there are people in need in Ukraine. He hopes that Americans realize just how much this means to the people there. "Several people have said: 'If it wasn’t for the American government, we would have gotten run over,'" he said. "It’s important from a moral standpoint to support people who are being victimized just because of their geography."