SALT LAKE CITY — Leona Duval waited at the Salt Lake City International Airport terminal with her children Saturday afternoon for her husband to return from an important mission.
“Daddy was going to go out there and help them for a week," Duval told her kids. "We knew that he was going to be okay, and he'd come home."
The family was looking forward to some spring break travel, but just two weeks ago, Dr. Gordon Duval made a change of plans.
“I'm just in my home that's all nice and warm with a pantry and a fridge full of food," he said. "And [Ukrainians] have not much at all, so I felt like I couldn't just do nothing anymore. I had to do something.”
With huge help from the community, the family raised almost $19,000 in just one week, plus they gathered another $60,000 in medical supplies, so Dr. Duval could treat orphans in Ukraine with the August Mission. The pediatrician returned home virtually empty-handed, but that’s not how he left.
“We thought, 'We're going to have like a few suitcases,'" said Dr. Duval. "Then it grew to like 10 to 12, and then after we actually got all the supplies together, we had 21 suitcases worth of medical supplies and medicines.”
Working in a summer-camp-turned orphanage just east of Ternopil, Duval had little fear for his life, he said.
“Maybe a little intimidated, but not afraid," said Dr. Duval. "That makes sense. Like when you're going through the checkpoints, and they're going through all your stuff and they're scrutinizing you. That can be a little intimidating with someone with a machine gun right next to you.”
Duval hopes other doctors and nurses can follow in his footsteps, but he says there are small ways they can help here at home.
“Even something set up with doctors that say like, 'Hey, I'll take every Wednesday from three to five and take care of a patient via telemedicine, you know, and have a trained translator on that side,'" he suggested. "That would be big."
Even by just donating $7, doctors can buy antibiotics for a child.
“Even if it seems small, do something," said Duval.
You can donate to the August Mission here.