HUDSON – Brian Lisse, a doctor living in Hudson, will travel to the border city of Przemyśl, Poland, in July and August to provide medical care for Ukrainian refugees.
Lisse said that this work is an extension of the dedication he and his wife Cindy DeRuyter have to helping the less privileged and less fortunate, both around the world and in the United States.
“These are poor people who were minding their own business, and then the Russians invaded, and their life became hell,” Lisse said. “If there’s some way that I can go and help and do something about that, then I want to do it.”
Doctor plans return trip
Lisse said that the hardest part of the trip logistically was finding the right organization.
Doctors Without Borders, for example, requires a two year commitment that Lisse was not able to make due to his other responsibilities.
He said it took him more than two months before a Ukrainian relief organization in Houston connected him to the Archdiocese of Przemyśl. Lisse said a Canadian doctor has been there since March and is recruiting American, British and Canadian doctors to help take care of patients.
Lisse will spend a few weeks in Poland in July before returning to Hudson for a few weeks, and then going to Przemyśl again in August.
“I’ve told them ‘I’ll keep doing that for as long as they need me, even if it’s years from now,’” Lisse said.
Lisse said that he thinks he will mostly be doing mobile clinics and traveling to different villages where the refugees are clustered.
His patients, he said, will primarily be people who had to leave their primary care doctors when they left Ukraine. He offered hypothetical situations of people leaving their medication at home in a rush. Some people are also developing acute problems during their exodus.
“I’m not going to be taking bullets out, at least as far as I know,” Lisse said.
Couple partners in charity efforts
Lisse has experience with medical work abroad. Lisse oversaw an annual trip to
Nicaragua from 2003 to 2011. The trip consisted of fourth-year medical students at Tufts
University and, eventually, interested students from the Nashoba Regional School District.
When it seemed like the situation in Nicaragua had improved, Lisse began focusing on a new country, learning about the demand for medical mission trips in Malawi. He has
been going there since 2012. He has further established the nonprofit Bridges to Malawi to
provide medical care, sustainable development opportunities and educational resources
to people in one of the world’s poorest countries.
Lisse said he and DeRuyter have divided their ventures between the global, which is his focus, and the local, which is DeRuyter’s.
DeRuyter runs the Agape Café, a free weekly supper at the First United Methodist Church in Hudson that is open on Thursdays from 4 to 5:30 p.m.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Agape switched from indoor dining to offering to-go meals in the parking lot.
DeRuyter said that, while they used to average around 45 people indoors, they now serve 65 to 80 meals a week. A few months ago, they began offering the option to eat indoors again.
“We’re actually serving more of the population than I wanted to reach in the first place at the present time,” DeRuyter said.
DeRuyter has also expanded the café to offer donations of clothes, frozen meat and pastries. Agape offers produce in front of the church even when it is not open.
Organization seeks donations
Lisse said that the organization in Przemyśl, Poland has asked for him to bring windbreakers and money with him to support patients.
Those interested in donating them can drop supplies off at his address at 7 Curley Drive. Monetary donations can be via by a check made out to Brian Lisse.