Dr. Yaser Alsaidi is actually a neurosurgeon. However, he's often needed elsewhere. The Palestinian man has a skill not many people do: networking. Dr. Alsaidi has built a massive medical platform in Ukraine: the World Health Organization? Yaser Alsaidi is their ambassador.
UNHCR, the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, the Ukrainian ministry of health, and UNICEF - Dr. Alsaidi coordinates for these organizations as he hops between first aid stations and the military hospital located right next to the Lviv train station. Alsaidi also worked in Kharkiv, Kherson, Odesa and some other cities. He is one of the official head coordinators in Ukraine. He organized trains to foreign countries to continue the people's treatment.
Last year, Angelina Jolie visited Lviv. Who was at her side throughout the day of her visit? Yaser Alsaidi. Since then, his Instagram channel has exploded. He has 186,000 followers there. How many people does he follow? Zero. To the question of why that is, he answered that it simply doesn't interest him very much. "The followers were just there at some point."
There are a lot of people who want to help, a lot of people who would like to deliver goods and other aid to Ukraine. What they don't know though: who actually needs the goods? What really helps? Maybe Ibuprofen has totally run out at the front, but the supply of disinfectant is overflowing. Or it could be exactly the other way around. The situation can change so rapidly. Exactly these questions need to be answered before any help can be organized. And it's exactly this gap that Yaser Alsaidi fills.
Even in the west of Ukraine where there's no direct fighting and relatively few rocket attacks, the people still have problems. As the invasion began, there were many people showing up to the first aid clinics because they were panicking.
Panic, too, needs to be addressed, the doctor tells us. Today, the situation is a different one. Many Ukrainians are coming back from outside the country. Some are experiencing burnout, others don't know what to do with their emotions.
In the middle of our interview, two Brits burst into the first aid clinic. "Where is Dr. Yaser?" They organize aid shipments and evacuate people from the conflict zones in eastern Ukraine. There isn't enough money there, they explain, and the support has been dropping off in recent months.
It is exactly these small Ukrainian and also foreign aid convoys that have been keeping Ukraine alive. They've built a supply line for critical aid just behind the front. That's been important for the military, but also for the people still living in the areas where fighting is ongoing. The civilian convoys are funneling food and medicine into the areas around the front. And it makes a difference, as the Russian side doesn't have access to the same kind of support. They have to organize their own medical and humanitarian aid.
So why is a doctor from Palestine in Ukraine doing all of this? He knows the suffering from his home country, Alsaidi says. He knows what will be needed. He understands the situation. But he actually was already in Ukraine before the invasion. In Kharkiv. There, he finished his studies and learned Russian. Today, he also speaks Ukrainian and four other languages.
This talent for languages is the key to his rare ability. Networking requires communication. And communication is Yaser Alsaidi's strength. It is so much more important than one might think or give it credit for. Then: a desperately needed package of pain medication is worth more than a thousand overflowing bottles of disinfectant.