One man, one promise, one mission

KYIV, Ukraine (April 25, 2022) — Patrick “Pat” Shearer, is a former police officer out of Strawberry, Arizona. Yesterday, he drove one mother, one father, two babies and their three cats from Ukraine to Poland.

Shearer is the old friend of Baylor Journalism’s very own Professor Matthew Brammer. Brammer, also from Strawberry, Arizona, reconnected with Shearer through Facebook in recent weeks and learned of his new adventure in Ukraine. After just a small conversation, Brammer discovered that Shearer has put himself on the ground in Ukraine, helping Ukrainians who are fighting to stay alive, seeking safety and shelter away from their homes.

Shearer arrived in Kyiv, Ukraine in April of 2021 after learning that Kyiv was one of the first locations that became available for international travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. During his five weeks in Ukraine, Shearer visited many cities including Bucha, Odessa, Lviv, Boryspil, Chernobyl and Kyiv. In Kyiv, he met a Ukrainian man named Eugene, who he befriended. He and Eugene spent a whole day touring the city, allowing him to fall in love with the people and their city.

During their tour, Eugene began to share his thoughts and even his fears with Shearer. Russian invasion was at the top of Eugene’s list of fears and worries. He stressed how much he loved his home, but how afraid he was to lose it. In that moment of heartfelt honesty, Shearer made a promise which he would keep, no matter the consequences. He promised Eugene, his new friend, that he would come back to Ukraine and fight beside him and his people if Russia did in fact take over Ukraine.

On March 2, after the February 24 full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia, Patrick Shearer answered his internal call to help others and kept his promise to his friend, Eugene. This kept promise has now saved hundreds of Ukrainian citizens. Shearer arrived back in Ukraine and has taken it upon himself to help transport Ukrainian citizens outside of the country border and into the neighboring countries of Poland, Slovakia and Romania.

In an in-class Zoom interview, Shearer showed a class of journalism students scenes of bus after bus, sitting empty, waiting to be filled by Ukrainians fleeing the country. The students met various family members who were waiting to board different modes of transportation, many only bringing as much as they can carry.

“They love their country, they don’t want to go back to the way it was with the Soviet Union,” said Shearer.

All Ukrainian men have been made to stay and fight, only being exempt if they have a disability or a family with three or more children. Shearer said he plans to be joining the fight soon.

To stay alive himself, Shearer has been living in hotels, apartments and other temporary homes in the area. Shearer mentioned that many of the apartments and hotels include a grocery store within the complex, where all residents can go to buy food and supplies for their families.

“My intention is to pay it all on my own, max out my card if I have to,” said Shearer.

He rented one car in Ukraine and one car in Poland to transport citizens to and from.

“I am not allowed to take either across the border because of some laws about insurance,” Shearer said.

In terms of communication, Shearer said Google translate has been a huge help, but most communication can be done nonverbally. He is thankful for other locals who help translate conversations when necessary.

One man with one promise and one mission is doing what he can, where he can.

“It has truly put things into perspective,” said Brammer. “It’s one thing to see photos of the war on my phone or T.V., it’s another to hear real stories and watch real videos from someone you know. Pat is on the ground standing with these people in Ukraine.”

The efforts of one man are being noticed and respected for miles and miles. He is an inspiration for us to keep moving forward with our own efforts to make a difference.

“They are deserving of everything. They are very proud people. They deserve everything that I’m doing, they deserve everything that everyone is doing,” said Shearer.

A heart for others is made so evident in the actions of a man who is giving everything he has so that he can truly be the change.

“Some people say you can’t save the world,” Shearer said. “Well, you can save the part that you’re in.”