“I had never seen such penetrating faces of pain”: the story of Juan Carlos Cruz, on the verge of his second trip to Ukraine

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“I had never seen such penetrating faces of pain”: the story of Juan Carlos Cruz, on the verge of his second trip to Ukraine

Juan Carlos Cruz, head of communications and public affairs at Livent Corp, a company dedicated to the development of lithium technology, and one of the victims who denounced the sexual abuse committed by Fenando Karadima, once again packs his travel bag. Next week he promises radical nuances in his itinerary, whose base is in Washington, the city where he lives. While on Wednesday he will have to give a talk in Davos, Switzerland, where a new edition of the World Economic Forum will be held; on Friday he will be in Ukraine for the second time, delivering humanitarian aid to the victims of the war.

“I was invited by the NGO Glaad (the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) to speak about the importance of diversity in the world and in business. I will have to talk about the experience in my company. And then, I will take advantage of being together with my friend Sister Lucía Caram, supporting the volunteers who will go with her from Barcelona to Ukraine, to deliver 20 ambulances”, he explains on the phone from Washington, where he lives.

The roads took him to the Ukraine after a conversation he had with the Argentine Dominican nun, just when the war broke out. “The first thing one thinks of is making donations. And that is very good, because all help is useful, but with Sister Lucia – who for me is a beacon of social justice and kindness – I decided to do something else and help in a more direct way and that is how this came about, ”he says.

The idea was to accompany her on her third humanitarian aid trip to Poland and Ukrainewhich he would carry out from March 30 together with his organization, the Santa Clara Convent Foundation and the Catalan bank Caixa Bank.

This is how he relates it: “We left Barcelona in the direction of Krakow. We had to deliver an ambulance and move as many people as we could. Sister Lucia is a person who has a capacity for organization 10 times better than any other person and she thought of everything, so Together with his foundation, he coordinated the aid. We went with two doctors, 50 volunteers, translators, drivers and nurses”.

On that trip they managed to reach Lviv, one of the cities near the border with Poland.. There, they arrived with various missions, such as finding a mother infected with HIV to supply her with medication for treatment, deliver aid and offer refuge in Spain to people who needed it.

“It was Sister Lucia who offered to go look for this person and I had to follow her, no more. I felt fear, because it was known that the Russians were bombing in that area, which was where the most help came in.. Luckily nothing happened,” says Cruz.

Although he did not see scenes of destruction, upon arrival in Lviv he was faced with the saddest part of an armed conflict: the separation of entire families. “We were in a train station and it was really like being in World War II. Seeing the sad faces on those people was something that shocked me. They were women or sick people with their children, because the men must stay to fight. I’ve never seen faces of pain so piercing“, recognize.

In that mission they also had to transfer people to Barcelona, ​​where Lucía Caram had already prepared a reception network, between her foundation and families that would receive the refugees. In total, they managed to travel with 240 to Barcelona. “It was not something simple. Many did not speak English, we did not speak Ukrainian, and there was also a lot of mistrust because they were also operating human trafficking mafias deceiving these women and children.

Cruz also remembers an episode that he lived in the Lviv hospital, where dozens of war wounded were treated. “The director of the hospital was moved to receive us and invited us to see the wounded. It was something tremendous, because they were young people of no more than 21 years old, who had mainly suffered serious injuries or even amputations of their limbs. They they asked me to tell what was happening in Ukraine, so that the world does not forget the horror they are experiencing”.

Since March of last year, Cruz has been a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Guardianship of Minors, where he has established ties with different leaders. Among them, the former Prime Minister of Poland, Hanna Suchocka, or the president of SOS Azurro, Ernesto Caffo, with whom she has also been able to coordinate aid.

“I talk a lot with them and also with Pope Francis. He is very concerned about the pain that millions of people are suffering and the days I was there he asked me about the situation ”ensures.

With all this help network, Juan Carlos Cruz anxiously awaits the new trip. For now, he is grateful that his company allows him to carry out this type of activity, while he reflects on his humanitarian work.

“I don’t do this so that they say: ‘oh, this rooster is good’. I am a normal person, with good and bad days, who takes antidepressants, with problems like everyone else. I know that there are many wars and pain in the world and we must not forget it, but right now I have the possibility to contribute with a small grain of sand, and it is something that has marked me deeply”, he concludes.

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