Leland couple volunteers to provide medical care in Ukraine
LELAND, N.C. (WECT) - Guy and Marilynn Fiocco are retired physicians now living in Brunswick County. The couple has spent years volunteering to help those in need of medical care.
During a volunteer stint at the Navajo Reservation helping residents there battle the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fioccos became involved with a nonprofit organization now called Global Care Force. The group allowed the couple to travel to Ukraine in November to work at mobile medical clinics across the war-torn country.
“Everybody in that country is facing risks every day and our risks in going there would not be greater than a typical Ukrainian civilian right now, so we had minimal hesitation,” Marilynn said.
The Fiocco’s journey led them to clinics near the capital city of Kyiv and areas both north and south.
“It was so close to Kyiv that it would be as if there were Russian tanks sitting here in Brunswick County, you know, and then you’d be crossing the bridge into Wilmington, it was that close,” said Marilynn.
While the couple took the chance to do some sightseeing in the opening days of their trip, they were stunned by the devastation the war has caused.
“The incredible destruction that we saw is going to be unforgettable,” said Guy. “There were, you know, apartment buildings completely in piles of rubble. There were Russian tanks resting by the side, there were piles of cars that had been destroyed by the bombings.”
The Fioccos were focused on helping those displaced by the war and in need of medical care. Their work mainly revolved around Ukrainian citizens feeling the mental impacts of the war with anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
“One child I saw was having a flare of her asthma,” said Marilynn. “And the mother said she had been doing just fine until they had to spend days in a bomb shelter underground that was moldy.”
Through it all, it was the spirit of the Ukrainian people that stood out to the Fiocco family.
“They were patient and their determination and resolve is so impressive,” said Marilynn. “They are sure that despite whatever sacrifices that they are enduring, that Ukraine is going to win the war.”
The Fioccos said they felt humbled by the experience and remained focused on helping the Ukrainian people survive.
“We discussed this a bit,” said Guy. “That we have done quite a bit and if a drone or a missile happened to land near us, and that was the end of us, it wasn’t a bad way to go.”
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