Sunset in Pantanal, Brazil.

We visited the northern region of the Pantanal and stayed in a floating houseboat hotel. It was a bumpy four-hour ride, and we stopped for lunch on a river. We saw a Jabiru…it’s a huge stork! We stayed in the houseboat hotel for two nights and went on daily excursions down the river. And we saw jaguars!!! Check out the video, https://youtu.be/QAcdNKbSNFU. Did you know that Brazil is the only country in the world with the Equator and the Tropic of Capricorn running through it? Super cool!

Jaguar in the Pantanal of Brazil.

Jabiru in Pantanal, Brazil.

We are now in the central region of the Pantanal. We are riding boats down the Bento Gomes River and looking at birds. If you’ve ever been on a birding trip, all heads, eyes, and cameras point into the air when everyone sees a bird.  It’s kind of a funny sight. See the picture below, and you’ll understand! We’ll be leaving the Pantanal on Wednesday and traveling to the eastern coast of Brazil. Our trip is almost over; we will return to North Carolina on Sunday.

Everyone’s looking at a Kingfisher! Hilarious!!!

I’m looking forward to connecting with the URI and KDU groups to get the latest updates from Poland. But now, I want to recognize our unsung heroes. Many volunteers generously give their love, compassion, and time to help resettle our new friends from Ukraine. But I want to spotlight a few of them.

Ukraine Relief Initiative – Matt McKissock– is the founder of URI. He sent a heartwarming email to his contacts about the humanitarian aid needed for Ukraine refugees. Because he and his colleagues share the value of giving, URI was created, and with his leadership, it has evolved into a global effort to ease the suffering of displaced Ukrainians. He has visited Poland three times and obtained a donation from IKEA for the Psychotherapeutic Integration Center. Thank you, Matt, for reaching out and sharing your vision of how we can all help together.

“Relieve the crisis. Thoughtfully. With Discipline and heart. Now.”

Ukraine Relief Initiative Ethan Evans – lives in Seattle. He went to college with Matt McKissock. Ethan’s first trip to Poland was in March, and he plans to return in September. He prepared, and delivered meals, gathered a lot of shoes, and secured a donation of laptops for the community center. And, along with Piper VanOrd, raised funds to purchase the van for KDU!

“The governments are sending weapons, but ” We the People” who are sending the food. “We the People” has a special meaning here in America. This is our chance to support a people fighting for their freedom. Let’s keep doing it.” – Ethan Evans

Ukraine Relief Initiative – Amy Pollack Kemp – lives in London and is Matt’s cousin. She has gone to Poland twice and is a fundraising hero. She has many connections in Poland, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom. Amy is a master at communication and sends us regular updates, so we are all in the loop. She is kind and generous, and we couldn’t do what we do without her. 

Świetlica Dębniki/Fundacja Let’s Help TogetherMichał Niner – is a loyal volunteer that does everything, the electricity, plumbing, floors…you name it, he does it! Without him, the Dębniki Community Center and the Psychotherapeutic Integration Center wouldn’t run smoothly.

“Michał Niner, you are reliable, always helpful, and smiling and cordial at that – such a volunteer is a treasure! Thank you very much and we promise that there will never be a shortage of work. There will always be a place for you in our ranks and hearts.” – Świetlica Dębniki/Fundacja Let’s Help Together

Świetlica Dębniki – Michał Piasecka – and his wife Olga and three kids live in Poland. They, Olga Lany, and Lucja Malec-Kornajew are the founders of KDU. They both have full-time jobs and opened their homes to Ukrainian families. And because of them, KDU was born. Michał generously used the family van to transport supplies to Ukraine and bring refugees to Poland. He has made dozens of trips to Ukraine. With generous donations, the URI was able to secure a new/used van with an automatic transmission (most vehicles in Poland have a stick shift), making the long journey to Ukraine a little easier. He and Olga continue to open their home to store boxes and boxes of supplies. Michał was instrumental in the creation of the community center in Kraków.

They do this and much more to help our Ukrainian friends settle into their new lives. Thank you for sharing the gift of your skills, heart, and generous spirit with our new friends and with all of us. You show us all how giving makes a huge difference in our world.

As you can see, it takes all of us to pitch in to help resettle the Ukrainians. Thank you for your continued support, donations, and positive thoughts. If you can make another small donation, every bit adds up. Please share our message and hope for peace for Ukraine. Be positive and stay safe.

Freedom is possible!

 

Much love,
Cindy and Dana

 

HOW TO MAKE FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTIONS

These contributions are tax-deductible through HCC, our registered 501(c)(3) pass-through charity.

TO CONTRIBUTE BY CHECK:

Make your check payable to **Hispanic Community Council** (VERY IMPORTANT: not to Ukraine Relief Initiative). After you write your check to the Hispanic Community Council, please mail your check to:

Ukrainian Relief Initiative
c/o Gladys Archer
115 Main Ave
Warren, PA 16365

Please indicate “Ukrainian Relief Initiative” in the check memo and include a note with your contact info (address, phone, email). * See the footnote at the bottom for details on the Hispanic Community Council.

TO CONTRIBUTE ELECTRONICALLY BY PAYPAL:

Use this link: https://www.paypal.me/UkraineReliefInitiat. PayPal goes through Gladys Archer, serving as a liaison between the “Ukraine Relief Initiative” and “Hispanic Community Council,” our 501(c)3 pass-through organization.

In the memo, please include your name, address, phone #, and email so we can process your tax receipt.

CONTRIBUTE WITH NO TAX RECEIPT

Venmo directly to my personal account now, and I’ll ensure your funds get where they need to be. Make sure to indicate “Ukraine Relief Initiative” in the transfer. Please give me your contact info (phone, email, address). You can Venmo directly to me:

Click this link, https://account.venmo.com/u/Cynthia-Henson-12.

_______

* In light of the emergency needs in Poland/Ukraine and the prohibitively long lead time of months or even years to establish a new charity in the US, the Hispanic Community Council of Chautauqua County (HCC), a local 501(c)(3) charity in the Warren-Jamestown area, has generously stepped forward, slashed the red tape, and agreed to act as the passthrough charity to process payments and issue tax receipts for our Ukraine Relief Initiative, consistent with their broad charitable mandate relating to international community engagement.  HCC is not charging our initiative one single penny to act as our passthrough charity. 100% of your contributions sent to HCC and earmarked for the Ukrainian Relief Initiative will go directly towards our mission of relieving the Ukrainian refugee crisis.

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