Local volunteers in Ukraine

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) — Eric Haddox volunteers with Samaritan’s Purse, an international humanitarian relief organization.

He is part of the disaster relief team and was deployed to Ukraine for four weeks in March.

Haddox used his engineering background to help set up an emergency field hospital.

“WASH which stands for water, sanitation and hygiene. So usually on those answers I will go as a WASH engineer providing clean water,” Haddox explained.

He didn’t have much time to decide when Samaritan’s Purse called, saying it was time to fly around the world.

“I had a little bit of time to prepare, like a few days, and then when he got the call, there was no doubt about it,” his wife Heather Haddox said.

“I just said ‘Oh yeah, you have to go’.”

Haddox crossed the border from Poland, watching a heartbreaking scene as a father kissed his wife and children goodbye.

“He hugged them goodbye, they all cried and two soldiers took him back to Ukraine while his family went to Poland,” he said.

The month-long trip took him through Ukrainian neighborhoods. He said many resembled northern Nevada, but the main difference was the homemade trenches and barricades that dot the streets.

“The neighborhood itself would have these makeshift bunkers and such, made of reinforced concrete or sandbags or whatever they could find. And then put a Ukrainian flag on top,” Haddox said.

He also noticed that many people outside the conflict zones are trying to lead normal lives. But in the back of their minds lives the possibility that danger is around the corner.

“There was a gentleman who was dressed in Calvin Klein and Armani and he took off his coat and his shirt and he was covered in burns from the bombing of his building,” he said.

Haddox and his wife say it’s their faith that drives them to help others.

“No matter where the need is, whether it’s in the Bahamas, or Haiti, or New York in COVID, or Ukraine, or across the street, it’s about denying yourself, taking up your cross and to follow Jesus and love people, showing kindness,” Haddox mentioned.

It’s also about teaching their six children to do the right thing.

“Even when their friends or people in their life would question it, like, ‘Your dad is crazy, why did he go there? Because they need help, so why wouldn’t he go,” Heather said.

“It’s hard for my kids when I’m gone, but part of that is also practicing saying, know what’s right, don’t be afraid, help people, love,” added Eric.

While you can donate money to many large organizations working in Ukraine, Haddox says they are also looking for people to donate time and skills.

“Maybe you can only give money, but maybe not. Maybe you can take a week or two out of your busy schedule once in a while and that makes all the difference in the world,” he said.

Learn more about the Samaritan’s Purse Click here.

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