Utah veteran back from humanitarian mission in Ukraine
KAYSVILLE, Utah – A U.S. Marine veteran is back home in Kaysville after a two-month humanitarian mission in Ukraine.
Quan Nguyen helped Ukrainian refugees escape the war zone and find necessities. He now plans to return to Ukraine next month with his wife.
When asked about his most valuable contribution in Ukraine, Nguyen said it was simple. By being there and helping out, he let the Ukrainians know that Americans care about them.
“In the next couple of months, they have challenging times ahead of them,” Nguyen said. “But, they are ready.”
After spending so much time there, Nguyen feels a close bond with the Ukrainians. He provided humanitarian aid through TF824.org, which he founded with his wife and a fellow marine veteran who operates a safe house for refugees in Lviv.
It stands for Task Force 824, and August 24 is Ukrainian Independence Day.
While there, Nguyen transported refugees and their families and even helped transport a Ukrainian child in an ambulance because there was no medical personnel to assist.
The marine veteran also distributed water purification pens, donated by Utahns, in areas with no safe drinking water. When he goes back, he will take gas masks to distribute.
“You never know what they might need. But, you just go out there and talk to them and try to connect,” Nguyen said.
He is motivated to help because of his experience as a Marine, and as a refugee.
“We escaped after the Vietnam War, after Saigon fell to the communists,” he said.
Nguyen was born in Vietnam in 1972 and lived in a couple of refugee camps before arriving in the United States when he was eight.
“I’ve always had a special place for refugees,” Nguyen said. Now, he’s planning a return trip with his wife, Amy.
“I sure hope somebody would want to come to help me if the roles were reversed,” she said. Amy will volunteer at Lviv Children’s Hospital, having worked with kids in the medical field.
“Even if it’s just a smile,” she said. “Yes, there’s a language barrier. But, a smile goes a long way being in a room with somebody while their world is turned upside down.”
Nguyen said there’s a lot more work that he can do on his return trip with his wife.
“Now, I have an idea of what needs to be done and things that could be done a lot better,” he said. “So that’s the reason for going back.”
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