DENVER — It takes a certain kind of person to pack up and leave for a country at war. For Rebekah Maciorowski, it didn't take much thought.
"I think everybody watched the news in February, early March, and was like, "Oh, this is horrible. Somebody should do something,"" she said Monday. "I didn't want to be a part of the bystanders. I wanted to jump in and help."
After taking a leave of absence from her nursing job, Maciorowski arrived in Ukraine in March. Almost immediately, her skills were put to the test.
"What I saw was really sad, it's really sad. Just complete devastation of people's homes, people's grocery stores, hospitals," Maciorowski said.
She volunteered with a Ukrainian-led group called Hospitallers. Her main goal was to help with medical evacuations, which included picking up soldiers injured in combat, treating them in an ambulance and taking them to the nearest hospital.
"You could fit up to four in our ambulance to the hospital, and you immediately... you're still washing the blood out of the ambulance. You get a call, "OK, you have to go back. There's another one,"" Maciorowski said.
Some of the soldiers, unfortunately, died before she and her team could get to them.
"You look at the birth date, and you're like, "How was he... how was he even fighting?"" Maciorowski said.
The devastating effects of the invasion were just as harmful to the civilians. In a moment's notice, many were forced to leave behind the life they'd always known when escaping the country.
"We saw a lot of pets left behind. People didn't have the resources to evacuate their animals, so I became the dog mom of the village we were in, which was... that was a fun role," Maciorowski said.
Now, back home in Broomfield, she hopes to continue spreading the word about the war, just as her Ukrainian counterparts asked her to. They fear the world has forgotten them and moved on.
""Please tell people what's happening. Show them what's happening,"" she recalled them telling her. "Because they really believe that if people understood and saw what was happening over there, surely they wouldn't let it continue."
Maciorowski plans to return in October. She says one of the best ways to help those on the frontlines of the war is to find a way to donate trauma supplies, like tourniquets, as they're in short supply there.