Ex-Brandon resident travels to Poland to help Ukrainians

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Glen Kirkland never imagined entering another war zone after being severely wounded in Afghanistan in 2008, but that’s just where he’s finding himself once again. When he heard about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he knew he needed to help, and within a day or two had a one-way ticket booked.

Kirkland has many connections here in Westman after living in Shilo and Brandon while serving with the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry from 2004-2014. After being seriously injured in Afghanistan, Glen was medically released from the military and found a new way to serve community as a real estate agent and was also a proud supporter of many great causes here in Westman. Glen later chose to relocate to British Columbia to be near family and enjoy a different pace of life. Prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Glen was enjoying working with his dad, Don, at their business leapcertified.com, training police cadets as they prepare for their careers.

We caught up with Glen to ask him about his service in Ukraine.

What made you want to go to Ukraine?

I wouldn’t say anything made me want to go… I would more so say I knew I had to.
Previously, I have been in positions where I’ve been able to help people, and when I heard the news of the invasion, I booked my flight within a day. Having been in a war zone in Afghanistan, I have seen first hand the suffering of innocent people. This was an opportunity to help again, in a place where the help was really needed. I am thankful I am in a place in my life where I am able to help.

What are you doing there?

When I arrived in Poland, I was able to get connected with a group of people who were collecting supplies and delivering them to Ukraine to those in need. The supplies we are delivering are very basic necessities…deliveries consist of food, medicine and essential medical equipment. So, I am based in Poland and spending many days doing these deliveries to Ukraine. I’ve also been helping women, children, and vulnerable people evacuate Ukraine. After I’ve delivered supplies, I drive evacuees back to Poland. From there, they typically go to Germany, Chzec, Canada, or some stay in Poland.

How has the war impacted Ukrainians? What do you see happening?

The war has impacted Ukrainians in many different ways. It has split families, and many lives have been lost. The destruction to their infrastructure is unimaginable. It’s also made farming incredibly difficult, so I imagine food shortages will be another challenge ahead.

When I was in Afghanistan, I saw awful things that I hoped to never see again. Coming here, I have witnessed the worst humans can do to other humans. My heart feels truly broken from this experience, as the suffering I have seen is real and deep. I pray that Ukrainians will be victorious in protecting their borders and their people.

What’s been the most rewarding?

When I give people rides out of the country, it’s not lost on me that they are leaving their lives and homes behind. They may be separated from family. They’ve experienced significant trauma. The women and children have no reason to trust me. When they first hop in, many times it’s been a bit awkward. With the help of google translate, kinder eggs, and my questionable sense of humour, these rides end in hugs and a connection/bond I know will last a life time. I joke that I turn the van into a magic school bus. It’s rewarding to get these people to safety.

The encouragement I have received keeps me going and I am in good spirits. Thanks very much to the people that are supporting me. To the people who have supported the gofundme, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I have never been one to ask for a handout, but the financial support is helping me to stay as long as I can, and help as many people as possible. Once again, thank you!

If you are able, please consider helping Glen in his efforts by donating to the gofundme.