Listen to Dr. Jones’ interview;
Dr. Evan Jones already had a ticket to fly from Kodiak to Scotland to see his daughter in early April. But with Russia bearing down on Ukraine and with his medical background, he felt that he had no choice but to book an additional trip to Poland — with his daughter in tow.
“I said we’re gonna actually go into Ukraine, if you don’t want to do that… You definitely don’t have to; we can figure out something for you to do while I’m in there. But if you want to go in, you’re almost 19 years old, you get to make your own decisions on this. I told her I don’t know what to expect. But she strongly wanted to go with me,” Jones said.
Jones works for the Kodiak Area Native Association, which is a major healthcare provider in Kodiak. With their blessing, he left with a suitcase full of over $1,000 of life-saving medications, and a contact from Youth With a Mission.
He arrived in Edinburgh on April 4th, and then flew into Warsaw and later crossed the Ukrainian border. Before long he was attending to the medical needs of several small villages south of Kyiv. Jones would then spend the next two weeks treating patients.
“I spent a lot of time with the people just talking through things, gave out a lot of ibuprofen and Tylenol treated a lot of high blood pressure with a type of blood pressure meds that kind of helps you lose that feeling of anxiety,” Jones said.
Signs of the war were present, Jones says, but not in ways one might expect.
The skies in Ukraine were almost completely silent, save for one jet flyby in the two-week period. A rare blast crater was visible while traveling by road. Posters showing weak points of Russian armor, and guides to Molotov cocktail attacks were pasted in public spaces.
Old men and women worked long hours to pressure can meat and sew army uniforms for the people headed to the front. Few children were there — many moved into other countries for their own safety.
According to Jones, Ukrainians appreciate that the American government has been doing its best to avoid open warfare between NATO and Russia.
“I recognize it could very easily lead to World War 3. And the Ukrainian people recognize that too. They’re not… they’re not dumb about these things. They’re very savvy, more savvy than the average American about how all this works together,” Jones said.
When asked why he would willfully enter an active warzone, Jones had a somber answer.
“This is the time where you kind of wonder — what kind of stand would have I taken if I’d been alive as Hitler came to power? A lot of people were on the wrong side of that,” Jones said.
In mid-April, after about two weeks in Ukraine, Jones and his daughter were on a bus back to Warsaw. Spirits were high: while the Russians launched a new campaign in the east, the Ukrainians sunk the Moskva with an ambitious surprise missile attack.
Jones says that he’d like to return. He burned up a lot of vacation time for the trip, but he knows that the work was important — and for him, deeply rewarding.