Dana and I just returned from the highlands of the Parque Nacional, Itatiaia (Itatiaia National Park). It covers almost 20,000 acres and is the oldest national park in Brazil. The Atlantic Forest is in the park’s lowlands with lush greenery. The highlands have mountains with elevations ranging from 1640 ft to 9157 ft. There are over 350 species of birds…which is why we’re here! Dana is so happy being with people that love birds as much as she does. She’s taking so many photos! We stayed at the highest hotel in the park, Hotel Do Ype. It was lovely, with the best view of the mountains.

Hotel Do Ype – Our room was in the middle building. It was one of the highest rooms with a fantastic view!

“Hi” from Hotel Do Ype in the highlands of Itatiaia National Park in Brazil!

Our next stop is Pantanal, Brazil. It’s the largest tropical wetland forest in the world. We are in search of jaguars. There are 159 mammal species and over 1000 birds in the Pantanal. I don’t know about cell or internet coverage, but I’ll do my best to update you.

Now, here’s the latest from Poland. Piper VanOrd, from Pennsylvania, is going to Poland again! And Megan Ullrich, from Washington D.C., joined Piper for the second time. They continue to put their lives on hold so they can help the Ukrainian efforts in Poland and Ukraine. They both have big hearts with gentle souls! Thank you, Piper, and Megan!

The community center in Kraków is just one way we are helping our new Ukrainian friends. Ukraine Relief Initiative has now taken ownership of getting supplies to two refugee centers, the Nest and Oksana’s hospital. The Nest houses 80 women and children and is a half hour from the Polish border. And Oksana’s hospital houses 400 disabled and elderly patients and is three hours inside Ukraine. Thanks to the new-used van (purchased with your donations), Michal and several KDU volunteers, along with URI volunteers, Piper VanOrd and Megan Ullrich took supplies to the front line, the refugee center, and medical supplies to Oksana’s hospital. The latest trip is to the Nest to deliver shoes and Legos!

The new-used van, named Pearl! The van was packed with shoes and Legos!

So many shoes! The children were happy to see their friends, Piper and Megan!

We are excited to share news about Lucja Malec-Kornajew, one of the founders of Fundacja Kocham Dębniki. Before KDU, she founded the first Children’s Detective Bureau in Poland. Now, she is an author of The Golden Train; and other great mysteries of art history in Poland, published by Znak Emotikon. You can read about detective Fishka and other mysteries of Polish works of art! Congratulations, Lucja…we’re so proud of you! Check out more details here: https://tiny.pl/whwtr – remember to translate to English.

Lucja Malec-Kornajew and her new book The Golden Train; and other great mysteries of art history in Poland.

This beautiful Facebook post from Fundacja Kocham Dębniki will touch your heart. I want to thank them for the work they are putting in to take care of our old and new friends. They, nor anybody, deserve war and devastation in their lives. And all of us, together, are making life more bearable in a difficult situation. 

“Since the beginning of the war, we have been operating not only in Kraków but also in Ukraine. We are helping friendly troops in Kharkiv by providing them with radios, medical supplies, and basic equipment (surely some of you remember the collection of sleeping bags), but also to two centers that we affectionately named together with our American volunteers, Nest and Falcon.

– Nest is a center run by Tatiana from Kramatorsk; in an abandoned boarding school, she found a shelter for 80 people – children and women. It is located on the side of the road near a small village, where there is almost no humanitarian aid. When we first got there, drinking water was drawn from the well, and several children were already in the reception room poisoned.

We installed their water pumps, an extra shower and washing machine (they had one before), and over 30 mattresses for their metal spring beds. We also brought 80 pairs of new shoes, clothing, food, and medicines. 

-The second center, which we regularly visit in Ivano-Frankivsk, Sokół, is led by Oksana, a doctor-traumatologist, who fled from ziugansk to Bucza before the war in 2014, where she lost her mother in March and saved her father by operating in the basement. Oksana and 8 volunteers take care of a group of about 400 elderly, disabled people who also fled from the east of the country. We provide them with medical equipment (including wheelchairs), hygiene products (a few hundred packs of adult diapers), food, and clothing. 

Tatiana and Oksana have become very close to us, and we wish we could help them for as long as needed. The people they care for have nothing to go back to, and it’s unknown how long they will need help. Perhaps this is the last stop for older people from the Sokół resort. We really want to make this time a little less dramatic for them. 

All this is possible thanks to the constant support of the Ukraine Relief Initiative, and especially the irreplaceable Piper VanOrd, Matt McKissock, Elan Ezickson, and Melanie Ezickson.

To be able to proceed, we need your support. We need both financial and material assistance, but also your presence – if any of you would like to accompany us on our next trip – write to us. Thank you!” – Fundacja Kocham Dębniki Facebook page.

Thank you for your continued support of Ukrainians in Poland and still in Ukraine. Please see below for ways to donate, and please share this message with your friends and families. Be positive and stay safe.

Freedom is possible!


Much love,
Cindy and Dana


All contributions are fully tax-deductible through HCC, our registered 501(c)(3) passthrough charity.

Make your check payable to **Hispanic Community Council** – (VERY IMPORTANT: not to Ukraine Relief Initiative) and send it to the following address:

c/o John Kersey
208 Liberty Street
Warren, PA 16365

Please indicate “Ukrainian Relief Initiative” in the check memo and include a note with your contact info (address, phone, email).

Use this link: https://www.paypal.com/donate/?hosted_button_id=WMYJHS9UVMWY2. PayPal goes through the “Hispanic Community Council,” our 501(c)3 passthrough organization.
In the memo, please include your name, address, phone #, and email so we can process your tax receipt.

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