Since Russia invaded Ukraine in early 2022, countries around the world have stepped up to supply Ukraine with aid and arms to fight the war. But equally important are the contributions that individuals have made, whether it be personally running supplies across the border or fundraising. For 82-year-old Reinhard Kleine, a retired German doctor, it was imperative to help, no matter what the cost.
So Kleine, whose uncle was the famed World War I fighter pilot known as the Red Baron, used his entire life savings to give his support to Ukrainians. For €25,000 (about $26,000), Kleine purchased an ambulance. He then refurbished and stocked the vehicle before personally driving it from Berlin to Kyiv. The nearly 950-mile trip took about one day, and Kleine was assisted by several volunteers, who pitched in on driving duty.
“I know that Ukraine really needs support now,” he shared. “So I don't feel sorry for this money, even though I spent everything I had.”
This isn't Kleine's first experience in Ukraine. After the 1986 Chernobyl explosion, he came over to lend his medical expertise and help children affected by the tragic event. When Putin's forces invaded in February 2022, Kleine knew that he had to help once again.
“At home in Germany, I sheltered women from Ukraine. There was even a pregnant woman among them,” Kleine recalled. “It's terrible when people are forced to leave their homes to escape the war.”
Kleine was motivated to buy the ambulance because he knew what a valuable tool it would be for the troops. Proper medical care in the field is imperative, and the ambulance will give medics on the front lines a safe space to work on the wounded.
Now that the ambulance has been delivered to Kyiv, it will be repainted before heading out into the field. As for Kleine, he's headed back to Berlin but is already thinking about how he can help further and raise the funds to do so.