Refugee Kids of Ukraine

Refugee Kids of Ukraine
U.S. President Joe Biden in Warsaw, Poland on March 26, 2022. (AFP/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden visited Ukrainian refugee families in Warsaw, paying close attention to the children. You may remember Joe’s own heart wrenching story about his wife and toddler daughter dying in a car crash. Two Biden sons survived the crash and young Joe suddenly became a single parent, grieving himself and comforting his small boys. President Biden delivered a speech in Warsaw after his meeting with the Ukrainian women and children. He ad libbed, “for God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.”

And who doesn’t think this?

TV viewing grandmothers everywhere clutch at the sight of little ones in their puffer coats and backpacks walking out of war torn Ukraine. Some have the great fortune of direct action in helping refugee kids. 

A friend in London texted: “so I raised $25k. Ray contacted the Gov. we went to medical supply warehouse in an East EU country. delivered goods to the border, where Dr and crew drove them 250k back to her 60 bed hospital in Ukraine. We are taking two families of refugees-teachers with three children including a 6 month old…”

Another retired friend activated a network of Eastern European contacts, flew from Chicago to Kiev and set up a food distribution center. 

Janice, a Polish American I met on the beach in Michigan a few years ago writes from her home in Poland. Check out her donation page below. 

Notes From Janice in Warsaw March 16, 2022

Now we have 1.6 million Ukrainian refugees in Poland. In Warsaw alone we have 400,000. This is about one quarter of our population. We personally have a Ukrainian refugee family staying with us in our home. Warsaw has only been able to accommodate so many. People have opened their homes, fed them, bought their medicine. It’s a private endeavor. Supposedly money is coming to help, but there is absolutely nothing happening. No housing, no public food money.

I’m involved in the children’s hospital, providing care and medicine to the Ukrainian refugee children. I’ve been actively on the board of this children’s hospital foundation for years. We already have hundreds hospitalized and there will be an onslaught of need.There are 200,000 Ukrainian refugee children here in Warsaw. If you know anyone who wants to donate just the cost of a lunch or dinner, every bit helps.

DONATION page. Funds will go directly to Ukrainian children medical care:

https://fundacjaprzyjaciol.org/en/become-a-friend/#donate_button_hook

Please also pass to others. This money is desperately needed. People are sending money to help at the border, but the refugees are there for only 1 day, then they come to live here in Warsaw and other cities in Poland. This is where the need really is, where they are residing and need full services.

P.S. The Ukrainian family is very sweet. They don’t speak a word of English, not a word. Nor of Polish. So I am trying to learn Ukrainian.

I dream of having a moment around the fire on the beach in Michiana. 

Just a moment of joy and peace.

________________________________________________

Thank you for any help you can give to the Ukrainian children in the Warsaw children’s hospital. Watch for more Notes from Janice in Warsaw in the coming days.

Crossing Paths with Putin

As part of the White House advance team, I traveled to Birmingham, England in April,1998 to help with President Bill Clinton’s schedule during the G-8 Summit, a meeting of the world’s leading economies. At Clinton’s behest Russia became a member of the G-8 the previous year (Russia was removed in 2016 because of their annexation of Crimea). Assigned to make arrangements for Clinton’s one-on-one bilateral meetings with G-8 world leaders, I learned Clinton’s meeting with Russian President Boris Yeltsin was my most important duty. It had to be discreet, secure and comfortable.

For ten consecutive days before the summit began, I tried to meet with my Russian counterpart at the Russian headquarters hotel. The Russians use KGB officers rather than civilians for their advance teams. Our US Secret Service generally didn’t commit resources until these tentatively scheduled meetings were established by the White House advance person. Even though the press speculated Boris Yeltsin was too ill to attend the G-8, the US pressed the Russians hard to accomplish the bilateral meeting as a show of Russia’s support for the latest nuclear non-proliferation agreement.

We got word at the last minute that President Yeltsin would meet President Clinton upon Yeltsin’s arrival at the Russian headquarters hotel, 24 hours after the start of the G-8 summit. That signaled the KGB to admit me to the secure floor of Russian Command. As I exited the elevator and entered an open door at the end of a typical hotel hallway, I faced men and women sitting at long tables stretched the entire length of the hotel. The hotel rooms’ walls had been removed, and tangles of wires dropped from the exposed ceilings to telephones, fax machines, computers, cameras and ominous electronic components. I announced my name and asked for my contact.

The nearest of the twenty-five or more Russians laughed out loud. “We know who you are,” one said.  

You do?

Wide-eyed at the cornucopia of visual information, I gawked at the long stretch of KGB agents wearing headsets and staring at video screens. One ferret-looking guy strutted around glancing over the others’ shoulders. My Russian contact approached, and we proceeded to a room on the hotel mezzanine reserved for the off-the-record meeting between the two heads of state. I called my Secret Service counterpart and the three of us performed our obligatory walk-through, agreeing to the safest route for both presidents through the hotel, with enough exposure for the media to observe the two men strolling casually together.

The day Boris Yeltsin arrived in Birmingham, he fell down the stairs getting off the plane and was carried to his car. His KGB detail helped him into the hotel elevator but he lumbered on his own down the exposed hallway to greet Clinton. My job completed, I left for the staff room in the US headquarters hotel where I saw a televised report saying Yeltsin appeared inebriated and the two presidents may have had a less than fruitful conversation.

I met the Russian team once more, a year later in Auckland, New Zealand during the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. Though Russia is not a part of APEC, Vladimir Putin flew to Auckland to secretly meet Bill Clinton. I secured a space and told the Russian team when and where to bring Putin. When I briefed President Clinton on the logistics of the clandestine meeting, he told me Putin was a real bad guy. I asked why he was meeting him. Clinton said he was going to be the next President of Russia.

I led Clinton to the undisclosed site and saw Putin for what I thought was the first time. Later, in the staff room, it struck me that Putin had been the KGB puppet master in that room in Birmingham the year before.

Boris Yeltsin had a reputation for public drunkenness and erratic behavior. Foreign service officers gossiped that KGB chief Putin secretly kept Yeltsin plied with vodka and drugs to render him ineffective so Yeltsin would either be forced to resign or drop dead. In August 1999 Yeltsin appointed the little-known KGB chief Putin as Prime Minister. Yeltsin retreated to the presidential dacha outside Moscow to recover from various illnesses and abruptly resigned five months later. He appointed Vladimir Putin as acting president.