We kicked off the project on August 25, 2022, when one of our volunteers, Vadim Monastirsky, rode off for a thousand mile long bike ride across Ukraine, to raise awareness of the project. Over the next two months, we raised the first half of the funds, mostly from Ukrainians – both those who remained in the countries and those who moved abroad to escape the war. Musicians held concerts, artists auctioned off their works, corporations donated from the balance sheets, there were lotteries, silent actions, teach-ins and an hour long concert on the Island of Spitsbergen, the world’s northernmost permanently inhabited community. There were daily “buy me a coffee” donations, payday contributions, there were even people who donated every time an air raid alarm went off.
By November, we established a sister non-profit in the US and launched the second stage of the fundraiser. This was our first organized effort in the West, and we are incredibly grateful for the generosity of the Westerners, many but no means all of them Americans. Most of our supporters had no personal connection to Ukraine – they were motivated by human dignity, by love of freedom and by contempt for the evil. Support came from successful entrepreneurs, university professors, IT engineers, military veterans, Fortune 500 executives, scientists, non-profit leaders, Wall Street investors, and from a twelve year old New Yorker named Mila. (Thank you Mila!). By Thanksgiving, the second half of the fundraiser was complete.
It then took three interminable months to obtain permits and transport licenses, but at the end of February, the ambulance arrived in Ukraine. On March 3rd, we turned it over to Slava Kurinnoi, Chief Medical Officer of the regional military hospital, and two days later, the ambulance was in service.