In this episode we had the privilege of attending a press briefing at the Clinton Global Initiative with a remarkable panel of speakers deeply engaged in humanitarian efforts for Ukraine. Our guests include Olga Rudneva, CEO of the Superhumans Center in Lviv Ukraine, a cutting edge hospital specializing in prosthetics, facial reconstruction, and PTSD treatment for war injured individuals.
We’re also joined by acclaimed actor, director, and writer, Liev Schriber, who co-founded BlueCheck Ukraine in response to the Russian invasion, fostering cross cultural understanding through his work. Also, Mykola Kuleba, former Ombudsman for children with the President of Ukraine and the driving force behind Save Ukraine, an initiative aimed to evacuate and provide humanitarian aid and housing to families and children in war zones.
Additionally, we will hear from Lauren Flanagan, co-founder, chair, and CEO of Sesame Solar. Sesame Solar’s groundbreaking technology, including 100% renewable mobile nanogrids, provides clean, offgrid power to communities utilizing solar and green hydrogen. In this episode we dive into the humanitarian efforts in Ukraine, the impact of the Russian invasion, and innovative solutions that are making a difference.
00:01:09:21 – Liev Schriber
So, just by way of framing, because I’ve been asked to frame. My name is Liev Schreiber and I am one of the co-founders of an organization called BlueCheck Ukraine, which identifies vets and fast tracks aid to humanitarian organizations in Ukraine who are doing the lion’s share of the work we should.
And two of the groups that I’ve worked intimately with, both Superhumans and Save Ukraine are partners of ours, and they made commitments for this year and they’re here to announce
that Superhumans contacted me almost a year ago now.
00:01:55:14 – Olga Rudneva
More than a, more than a year ago, yeah.
00:01:57:12 – Liev
To ask if I would be an ambassador. At that point, I was just trying to figure out whatever I could do to help. One of the blessings of celebrity is that you don’t have to do much. Sure enough, here we are. A year later, you’re operational. They’re extraordinarily successful.
Save Ukraine is another organization that I just think is one of the most special providers of humanitarian aid and support out there, particularly for children. So, I’ll let them tell you about
their commitments and their organization.
00:02:29:22 – Olga
Shall I start? Well, first I want to say that we need more people like Liev who will be able to come to Ukraine and actually address the issue and draw attention to the issue in Ukraine. Because unless you go to Ukraine and see what is going on there, you can’t relate to that.
This is why it’s just too unreal.
A year ago, we decided that a group of individuals like three individuals started to do that hospital for prosthetics, rehabilitation and psychological support for those people who lost their limbs because we realize that there’s going to be many people in Ukraine who will be amputees and will need prosthetics.
So with this idea, we actually stepped into this endeavor and we were at CGI last year to announce a commitment, and a year later we opened in April 15th. We treated more than 200 people with high quality prosthetics. And just to bring the statistics, right now in Ukraine, 20,000 people need prosthesis and it’s double, triple amputees.I want to give you that number of lost limbs because it’s really terrifying.
Also, 40% of Ukrainian territory is mined right now. It’s just the size of all this terrain, meaning that if the war stops tomorrow, we’re going to have amputees for years from now. So it’s quite a big problem and we need to put people back on their feet as soon as possible. But the service has to be complete. We have to start with the psychological support, fit people with the prosthetics and then do the rehabilitation cycle to just teach people how to walk.
And then if we want to increase adherence to the prosthesis which is very, very important. We need to find a reason for these people to leave their apartments. Because I know it sounds very crazy, but no one needs slack. No one needs a hand. You need that to go somewhere
and have, you know, to help someone. So, that’s why we need to give a reason for our patients to leave their apartments and to wear their, you know, expensive prothesis.
So that’s why we added one more service, which is reintegration, finding a job and education for our veterans, ex-military guys and we are scaling up to provide more reach because the need is so big in Ukraine. So that’s what we are doing. We did it over the year and we are
so thankful to people who trusted us a year ago like Liev who can join us as ambassador and the Clinton Global Initiative who gave us a stage to actually to announce our commitment.
00:04:58:04 – Liev
So, if you wouldn’t mind, talk a little bit about the cultural component the stigma and how Superhumans is also working.
00:05:08:14 – Olga
Yeah, we uh, we are trying to deliver the message to Ukrainians that we want to be a country where there’s going to be a lot of people with disabilities on the streets and it’s our new normality. So we have to accept that lots of people will have artificial legs and artificial hands and we need people to look and see it as a new normal. So we are trying to promote this new aesthetic. It’s cool, you know, Superhumans are having cool hands. Very, very soon we’re going to have our temporary tattoos, which is like on the whole hand. Which is mimicking, you know, the actually the prosthetics.
We want it to become fashionable. You know, we want kids not to be scared, but to ask great questions. So we teach people how to address that. We teach people how to ask the right question, not what your prothesis can do, and saying like, what you can do with your prothesis, you know, because it’s the person who is actually moving the hand. And some people kind of think, after our patients get well, and they’re like, listen, my leg is not going to
regrow and I’m not seeing.
So we are teaching people how to communicate with people who lost their legs and arms and they’re trying to make it new standard, new normal because we go on and work with a lot of amputees and we want to explain that it’s, it’s not about, you know, being ashamed of the prosthesis, it’s how you are proud because that’s how you actually fighted for Ukrainian independence.
00:06:42:21 – Liev
Lauren, do you want to-
00:06:45:14 – Lauren Flanagan
Hi, Lauren Flanagan, I’m co-founder and CEO of Sesame Solar and we are decarbonizing disaster response in off-grid power. We make mobile nano grids that can be set up by one person in 15 minutes, and what’s a nano grid? It’s either in a shipping container like an ISO shipping container or a trailer.
It has a retractable solar array, has battery storage and green hydrogen. We also do atmospheric water generation. So this is a mobile power center. It could actually power
your prosthetic making, leg making.
00:07:19:26 – Olga
We need to borrow, uh, sorry for interrupting. We need to borrow prosthetics itself because a lot of them need charging.
00:07:26:06 – Lauren
That’s our job.
00:07:27:21 – Olga
That’s why we need-
00:07:27:21 – Lauren
Charges like your car, your whatever, your prosthetics. So it’s mobile power for devices, medical equipment, and also we generate water from air so we can have clean water, either distilled or we can make the water we need to make the green hydrogen. So it’s been my personal desire for as last year to try to get four of our nano grids into Ukraine.
One would be a mobile medical hub that would be maternal and neonatal care. So we have a lot of equipment, as you know, many hospitals have been damaged, a lot of maternity wards in hospitals have been destroyed and the others would be mobile power. We teamed up with another group, which is Direct Relief. It’s a large medical charity, and they have on the ground in Ukraine different nonprofits that they’ve been supplying medical equipment and supplies for the last-since the war began. Actually, they’re one of the largest private donors.
And so we’re using the CGI network to reach out, get out, let people know what we want to do to help get some donations so we can do this. We will donate a lot of it and do some of it at cost. These are are expensive pieces of equipment, but they are energy independent. They can save lives and run indefinitely. And we would train and help everybody do it.
So we would put little mobile power plants in four different regions of Ukraine. So we’re excited about this because we know we’re going to help save some lives. Help people with
rehabilitation needs, help them with power needs, you know, just any kind of humanitarian aid
that can be done.
So this is very high tech stuff, right? But it’s something that is going to impact lives.
And we’re here to share this and see who wants to help us. You’re farther ahead. Much further ahead, you got your ambassador. But we’re looking for people who want to help us with this program to be successful in Ukraine. And that was my personal commitment that before the end of this year, we would do something and more.
00:09:33:10 – Mykola Kuleba
Thank you so much.My colleagues told you a lot and while very important issues because, many Ukrainian soldiers dying and losing their limbs, and they are saving lives. All of them have that reality, especially children who suffer being separated from their families. And it is very hard. I never could imagine. And now I can imagine how many Ukrainian children now suffer. Just now.
We are talking with you in combat zones or in controlled, different controlled areas, because no any safe areas anymore in Ukraine. But I was reporting today that 1.5 million North Ukrainian children were kidnaped and deported. Accompanied, unaccompanied, or stays in occupied territories. And we must talk not only about the kids who are being kidnaped from orphanages. What is a crime, but the kids who are living under the Russians and they indoctrinate, re-educate them every day.
And on the other hand, that kids who live in Ukraine, on controlled territories, they suffer a lot. They have huge educational losses, they have huge traumas. Many of these families divided and families surviving. With no humanitarian support. And they looking for a place to live. And that’s why Save Ukraine organization which I founded after first invasion 2014, is the biggest rescue network for rescuing kids from combat zones, and especially that kids who have
been kidnaped from Russia.
We provide different kind of support, different programs. But our strategy is rescue, restore and rebuild. We are rescuing them, then we provide psychosocial support and housing in our hope and healing centers. We have seven hope and healing centers all over Ukraine and then-
00:12:02:03 – Liev
So, essentially deprogramming.
00:12:03:09 – Mykola
Yes, it’s deprogramming for that kids who had been kidnaped and who have been brainwashed but for that kids from combat zones and, you know, who lost everything and with their parents and we provide a housing program and provide humanitarian support through legal support because very often they have no documents and they need this support. And after that, it’s our third pillar, It’s to rebuild their life, to integrate them into a local community, into Ukrainian communities, especially those kids who’ve been kidnaped.
Because can you imagine a child who may be returned telling, I very amazed because I thought Ukraine not exist anymore because the Russians told us that all Ukraine is invaded and it is a Russian state, and they brainwashed them. They believe that in Ukraine live Nazi,
as you know, everybody knows it
I’m Nazi because I live in Ukraine, because I’m Ukrainian, because I help Ukrainian children, I love my country. For Russia I’m a Nazi, because they call me Nazi, but it’s stupid, it’s horrible what they’re doing with our kids. We return many kids who’ve been kidnapped and placed to Russian families and they really, they infect them of hatred against Ukraine, towards Ukraine.
That’s why this program, what we are developing and here I’m with commitment of launching an educational and empowering community centers for children and for their families because it is not enough now to build school and to invite child to school. Many kids have no access to
attend schools. In rural areas, it’s 50% of children. In cities, 30% of children. You have online education but in other can attend schools.
But it is not enough because they have traumas. 75% have a problem with mental health. Yeah, and they need somebody who will heal to help this child to be recovered. And another thing, it’s a basic needs. It’s just a meal.
Many, many parents have no normal conditions of life. No water and food. That’s why, in our centers we provide educational program, trauma therapy. We have psychologist, social worker, we work with the family, we have positive parenting program for parents how to to deal with traumas,how to, we are healing them together because it’s a family.
Because, for example, it’s one more example, after returning a child from combat zone, a child, the father of this boy, was under the shelling was killed because he covered his body of his son and he died. He was killed. And we rescued these three kids from that village and to our Hope and Healing center with a grandmother. That boy couldn’t speak, maybe six months. He couldn’t speak. And what kind of education he needs?
He needs recovery. He needs somebody who will care, will support, he needs psychologists.
And first of all, they need a place to live. That’s why it’s a different puzzle. It’s one picture. That’s why we, we are building solutions for this family, for these children. We assess their needs. We provide support. And this, our program of education, the empowering center is where child every day can grow.
It’s about safely growing of this child and, and care, and support, and the and different programs there which will help this child grow normal. And I especially do this because
we have art therapy in our centers. This picture several days after we bring this child to our center, and then this picture after recovery program. Children really can, we’re changing that.
They’re little gifts we have for you. Our bracelets. You are supporters. You are supporters of Ukraine and you can save, save Ukraine really, because alone we will never be able to save Ukraine, but together, with partners, with friends, we believe, we know, we are sure that we will, we will protect our kids. Thank you.
00:17:23:20 – Liev
There’s a very strong sense within our organization that nobody is better equipped than
Ukrainians to help themselves.
00:17:34:00 – Reporter
How do we prevent what happened in Rwanda with genocide? How do we help Ukrainians rebuild?
00:17:40:06 – Mykola
To prevent genocide, first of all, we should be brave to tell genocide, to call it genocide, to define genocide. What Putin’s doing, again, he’s rescuing kids. He’s feeding them.He gives money for family with the child who support them. Yeah, but he brainwashed them, he indoctrinate them. He, he inject hatred against, towards Ukraine and then use them as a weapon against Ukraine. What is that? Because we don’t understand. Oh, that was genocide. But why genocide?
They totally change this identity. They brainwash them, and many of them dying, they’re Russian soldiers now because he’s, he is using our kids. He can not kill them now when social media when next day everybody will know this. It’s bad to brainwash kids and use them
as a weapon against Ukraine. First of all, all the civilized world should call this genocide. It is genocide. What Putin’s doing against Ukrainian children and then to find solution how we can prevent Ukrainian children, and how we can support, how we can return.
But first, identify that kids who’ve been kidnaped and forcibly deported, and leaving Russia,
because we have no access to that kids and Red Cross telling, guys we can’t help you. United Nations telling we can’t help you, because no regulations, we have to change somebody and Russia is a part of United Nations.
No, and it is hybrid war, and that’s why we need strong voice, strong international voice. It’s evidence what happened now with that, because we are returning these kids from Russia and they are reporting, we document these crimes, they clearly reporting to us that one boy who we returned, he was he was placed to the solitary confinement for one week just because he didn’t want glorify Putin and Russia and sing Russian anthem. That’s all.
00:20:09:24 – Liev
My take is that, I think you have to look at the problem in a systemic way. And if we’re going, we could take the model of Save Ukraine and what Mykola has accomplished. I would say
that the first step is education. When we look at Rwanda, heard the woman from Tunisia speak so eloquently today about the need for that is education.
Because what’s the climate that’s been created that allows that kind of violence to occur? And I think, as Mykola points out, Putin’s, Putin’s very cynical strategy of relying on propaganda and hatred or violence to enact the horrors that he’s enacting. We think it’s about education. And I think if it wasn’t a state controlled media in Russia, things would be very different. People would understand more.
And I think we can apply those models that Mykola and Save Ukraine use to Rwanda. First to reeducate, to educate people, to make sure they have a workable knowledge, and then also to teach them the opposite of what they’ve been taught, which is the idea of, of creating a loving and supportive environment.
00:21:19:18 – Olga
I want to add up here. You know, it’s been a year and a half with the war in Ukraine and, you know, we have been living in a country that has war and even us, we just, as what I can understand the world who’s living their normal life and probably is just, you know, headlines. And we just need more people for advocate for Ukraine. And the only thing I do want to keep reminding the world that every time, every moment when we sit down here and talk, someone is killed, tortured, and raped in Ukraine. So, but we need media.
We need people like Liev who’s ready to get out and talk about that, because the world is forgetting. I mean, it’s not happening to, there is nothing to blame. You know, I’ve been in Ukraine and I saw Afghanistan war on on TV, and it was too far away from me, you know,
until it became my personal issue. I could never imagine how it is,
you know, to live through the war. And I was just, you know, while just sitting, eating chips. Looking on TV and think, that’s horrible. Let’s switch to another channel, and now I am this person who is waking up to air sirens every morning.
Now I am the first one to think that the world is very, you know, unfair to me and for all to think it’s, you know, it’s life, it’s okay someone took our life away. It doesn’t mean that it should took lives away from the rest of the world. I understand that. What I want world to know that we are still fighting. We are still trying to fight our, you know, for our independence. And I just want the world to remember from time to time that they can be of some help, you know, to Ukrainian kids, to Ukrainian mothers, and that’s the role of media and of big names and Hollywood stars to remind about that, because otherwise it’s just headlines.
00:23:10:21 – Liev
One of the things that I love about being American is this idea that there aren’t many Americans who don’t come from somewhere else. And we owe that debt to our grandparents, to our ancestors who gave us the opportunity that we have now to stand up for the things that we believe in. And I think that right now, the Ukrainians are engaged in a struggle for our values, and I think they’re being challenged in our own country.
Authoritarian regimes are popping up all over the place, authoritarian politics. To see this country push back against authoritarians and bullies and everyone had said the first week Kyiv will fall. Look where we are now. And this is a statement of what’s right. And we all know what’s right. The truth and it’s so obvious.
00:23:59:21 – Lauren
We need more companies. The tech community, energy companies, to step forward, to bring the technology to help as its, you can get food and you can give medicines. But we need to empower the Ukrainian people with the technology to rebuild and a lot more tech companies need to be here.
00:24:19:00 – Reporter
How does this conflict end? We are now seeing this situation where Republicans, especially, are trying to move away from continuing support for Ukraine.
00:24:26:00 – Olga
Do you really think that some of us know how it ends? I wish I would know.
00:24:31:19 – Lauren
We have to stop saying that it’s not working because first of all, we are making inroads, or the Ukrainians are making inroads. And we need the media to shine the light on all the good work
that’s being done to rebuild and all these efforts, the valiant fighting. It needs to be put out there in the front every day, because otherwise it becomes the background.
Oh, we’re giving too much money. We should help our own people. No, this is the firewall to World War 3 and Ukraine is the first defense. And we all of us in the West have to be supportive. It’s essential. But the media needs to tell that story.
00:25:08:19 – Olga
I would just say, you know, that for Ukrainians, just for the world to know. There is no other way except for the victory. And those who are in Ukraine right now, we know that sooner or later we’ll be on the front lines when we run out of people we’re all going to be at the front line
fighting until the last bullet. And so that’s our attitude.
We not gonna let it go after everything we lost, after, you know, everything we’ve been through, we’re going to fight till the victory. And is this a war of resources between two countries, but it’s more than the war of resources is between good and evil. And it’s not about Ukraine. It’s about how the world functions. If Ukraine will lose, we’ll lose the way the whole world was functioning up to how the world should. So it’s about basic rules.
We want back our territories. Why shouldn’t I keep my territories? I’ve been born in Donetsk. I was, yeah, I was kicked out from there. I was raised in Crimea. My house in Crimea is occupied now. My house and Bucha was occupied. I can’t run all my life.
00:26:12:24 – Mykola
Sorry, I can add something. I’ve work with two presidents, Zelensky and Poroshento. I was in Minsk negotiation. We really, we believe that we could agree with that, and European Union, United States tried to convince us that it’s possible, it’s impossible to agree with Putin. Never. Ever. Impossible because his goal now clear to totally destroy Ukrainian identity. He never stop. That’s why it’s not about negotiation and give us the piece of land.
No, it’s not enough for him. It’s just totally destroy Ukrainian identity and grab all that. It will be only vacation for him. One, two, three years and then again he will come back and he will be killing. That’s why for all civilized world, we should clear understand this. Many people believe how this person in nice suit with a tie telling good things could be liar and it’s possible. He’s evil, not liar. It’s pure evil. We should understand this. And in two weeks you will
see 60 Minutes here about Save Ukraine rescue missions, how we return and what children talking about this, how they were kidnapped.
00:27:49:12 – Liev
You actually look at the Budapest Memorandum of 1994 to understand how negotiations were. The premise of this is that piece that the Russians and us swore to protect the sanctity of Ukraine’s borders in exchange for their nuclear weapons. At that time, Ukraine was the third largest nuclear power in the world. In the interest of nonproliferation, they gave up a third of their resources.
And in exchange for our promise, hard promise, to protect the sovereignty and the sanctity of their borders. Russia was our-
00:28:31:11 – Mykola
And sorry, you know what lessons we learned together? That we should spend, invest on children both critical thinking about, about teaching them what is a lie, what is a black, what is white? Because through technology, through propaganda, they brainwash a lot of people around the world. And for me, let me, one minute. What it’s look like for me, it’s through metaphor.
If somebody come with a weapon to my house, kill me, rape my wife and kill, burn house, get out, and then hear children’s voices going back take kids from burning house, and
next day from another places. People come to his home to that killer home, and they’ll-
What did you do? Why you killed this man and raped wife and killed and kidnaped children. What are you talking about? Look at my cameras. Cameras shows I’m going to burning
house and taking kids from burning house. “I’m saving kids.” Look at this. Are you crazy? Why? Why? Why have you founded me or is it I’m criminal? I’m saving children.
What is Putin’s doing now? He’s showing a picture how they are saving from the from combat
zones, from hotspots, and feed them and give them passports. Give them brilliant future, guys
I’m saving these kids from burning house. And this is hybrid war. This is propaganda, but it’s very hard to reach people with the truth. Because in my centers all over Ukraine, I have thousands of families and children who go through recovery program. I can tell you days, days about their lives, what happened with them, but how you can communicate with the
with the American audience, with the European audience. People don’t want, people tired.
00:30:45:28 – Liev
People asked me this long ago when I first got involved, they said, why are you getting involved? There’s not a chance in hell. And I said, of course there is. The lie is too big. It’s unsustainable. The lie is too big. And that’s why I’m absolutely confident. Absolutely confident of the outcome. The lie is just too large. The bedrock of Russian nationalism are the mothers of those cadets in those military programs who begged that the heads in the school
not to send their children. Their children are now missing, or children have been missing for months because they’re children, the first wave to go, and they had told most people that we wouldn’t send kids. And that’s the bedrock of Russian-
That’s just one example of how when a lie is so big, it’s impossible to-
00:31:32:11 – Mykola
Sorry, sorry for interruption. Just after our last rescue mission, one 16 years old girl, when we document crimes, she told I been in Moscow. It’s from Kherson occupied territories. You’ve been in Moscow? Okay. What happened? Because me and my friends from that territory busses, drove to Moscow for conference. What conference? Yeah. We leave suburb, Friday morning we woke up and because it’s huge traffics and we reach conference whole for four days, from eight morning until eight evening, we were listening Russian politics, but four days, they brainwashed in Moscow our kids. What is this?
They bring kids from occupied territories and brainwash them. I can tell you a lot of things about how they brainwash them and on occupied territories, now it’s very hard to leave with your Ukrainian passport. It’s impossible because Russians coming until if you will not receive Russian passport, we will deporting you. We will take off your kids from the family. Because many families, Ukrainian families don’t want send kids to Russian schools, but they know you must. But to send to Russian schools you should receive Russian citizenship.
00:33:05:25 – Liev
Yeah, it’s very hard to keep this conversation out of the political arena. Because it’s all very important to all of us, but I want to remind everyone that this panel is of people who are providing humanitarian aid support to Ukraine, and if there are any other questions than that.
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