Not many people would risk their lives to deliver supplies to people in need across the globe, but Santa Clarita resident Joseph White has done it once and will do it again.
In April, White traveled to Ukraine with other volunteers to deliver medical supplies from Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital to a church in Chernihiv. Despite the danger of venturing into a war-torn nation, White says offering humanitarian aid to Ukrainians is something that he must do as Russia continues to fight to seize territory in eastern portions of Ukraine.
“It’s a little bit more dangerous, because I’m going in more [traveling deeper into Ukraine], but the western portion of the country and Kyiv are fairly safe for now,” White said. “But I’m not really scared that much either because I’m focused on what is needed and not so much about what dangers there could be.”
For his second trip to Ukraine, White will be delivering prescription drugs, a few bulletproof vests, and food and other medical supplies. He is working alongside a disaster relief organization, which his father is also working with, to provide aid to Ukrainians.
Relief efforts on most fronts are being coordinated with the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, according to White. Prescription medicine was brought in through a medical organization, first aid supplies were bought at a discounted rate from a medic and another medical organization called Compassion.
White said they were able to purchase bulletproof vests from some people they know who sell military and police equipment. White will be flying over to Ukraine soon with supplies in tow.
The plan is to use a minivan to transfer the majority of the supplies and then meet up with two other volunteers with vans. Once they meet up with White’s father, the three of them will split up the supplies and make their deliveries.
“We’ll drive over to Kyiv and I’ll stay the night. The next day, I’ll visit some regions that were occupied by Russians, and then I’ll just head back to the border,” White said.
White, a Master’s University graduate, said he won’t be able to stay long in Ukraine as he needs to return to continue his studies at the University of St. Augustine of Health and Science.
During his last trip, he noticed many Ukrainians coming in and out of their country. It would make him wonder why they would return to their homeland when there’s a war, so he asked.
“What we understood from asking different people is that they couldn’t adjust or they just can’t live anymore outside of their country,” White said. “They’d rather go back to their country, deal with it [war] or adapt to it. But others were trying to go into Poland to escape the war. Everybody has different reasons.”
White said he believes there are many Ukrainians seeking to return home because some of the fighting between Russia and Ukraine has shifted to the east and south of the country. Conditions in Kyiv are still pretty tense as White said there are concerns of potential bombings, but regardless he’s going to drive in and deliver supplies.
White, 26, was born in Glendale but grew up in Ukraine, and his parents have both been missionaries in Ukraine since 1992. Ukraine is part of him, it’s a home to him, especially the city of Kyiv.
“I have close friends there, and I want to help them and show them love,” White said.
Reporting by Trevor Morgan