Who are we? We are not a big organization right now, just a few people trying to do what we can for our brothers and sisters fleeing Ukraine.
What's going on? The U.N. estimates that, in only 5 weeks, over 4 million Ukrainians have been forced out of their country by the invading Russian forces. Over 10 million are estimated to have been displaced from their homes, still stuck in Ukraine.
What are we doing? We began our efforts coordinating with a beautiful non-profit academy with space and accommodations for around 60 people. This non-profit education center (known as the Cumorah Academy) is near Prague, Czech Republic. We filled this space very quickly and moved our efforts to Krakow, Poland where we found a constant need for transport away from the border crossings. While public transport is often free, it does not operate at all hours of the night, and is not ideal for women with small children, the disabled, elderly and those with many belongings. We learned that public transport is also not helpful to those who have destinations outside of major metropolitan areas. Between us and two other charities–Reach Ukraine and Type of Wood– who have joined the cause, we have been able to help transport nearly 2,000 refugees to safety. Collectively operate a team of up to 10 drivers at a time and have a growing cohort of over 50 volunteers, working across three continents, several countries at all times of day and night.
With funds we've raised so far, we have been able to not only transport refugees, but put many of them up in hotels so they can shower, wash their clothes and really rest. Many had been traveling for a week or more when we finally met them and having this moment and space to breath brought many tears of gratitude for them and for us. After a day or two in a hotel we help them on with their journey, often paying for long-distance trains, busses or even flights.
Along the way we find many needs and do our best to fill them. A family of six, the youngest less than two years old, had been sleeping in a bunker for a week when they finally found a ride out of their hometown of Kharkiv. They arrived with what they could carry in small backpacks and used the last of their cash to get a taxi to a refugee center in western Poland. We found them broken down at a gas station and asked if they needed help. That started a beautiful journey that led the driver and this family to Vienna where they now have housing, a job and neighbors who are helping them get acclimated to their new home. Along the way we were able to get them a stroller for the baby and some cash to buy shoes for the children. It was a beautiful experience for everyone involved...and it was all because of you!
How does it work? When it first began, we simply had a few friends getting together, paying their own way to and from the Czech Republic as well as renting vehicles to make the border run as many times as we could. The situation on the ground led us to make adjustments in our approach. We continue to make border runs with new waves of volunteers but we've expanded to help in more ways, including accommodations, suitcases, food, clothing, immigration resources to other European counties and much much more.
What do we need? Our personal resources are limited. With additional funding we could expand our rescue capabilities. The needs are not going anywhere.
Daily expenses: We pride ourselves in being able to quickly and directly alleviate suffering and concern for individuals. We found a women who was needing to get to France where she had been offered a room a friends house. The bus/train route would have taken her 26 hours. We were able to offer her a flight, the pre-departure covid test, a suitcase for her belongings (that had been carried to this point in grocery bags) and some money for food and other things on the journey. She is now in a safe home, with good people and starting a job soon. All of that cost less than $300.
Within the month: We will continue to share in maintaining a temporary shelter program in hotels. Between our partners and us, this costs around $650 a night.
The needs we anticipate over the next 3-4 months:
Today women and children are freezing, but our team has recently put a process in place to help refugees stay warm for the hours-days that they stand in line. In time, the snow will melt and we will have a different problem...heat exhaustion and lack of shade. Safety mandates dictate that we can't put up anything with a "roof" so providing shade will be difficult. Though conditions may change, we have plans to provide various means of shade and water to reduce the risk of heat exhaustion or heatstroke.
We have also begun working with the Backroads Foundation and their efforts to run supplies of food, equipment, medications and other necessities to groups running shelters, orphanages and hospitals inside Ukraine. This requires a significant amount of capital and corporate alliances. Just a few weeks ago 3 tons of medications were delivered to a hospital in L'viv courtesy of our friends at Backroads Foundation. See more about their work here.
We are building a robust network of transportation, entertainment, housing, employment and other resources to help those we come across. This requires time and manpower, funds would be used to ensure we can maintain the momentum.
Thousands of Ukrainian citizens have been touched by your kind hearts. We are on our way to touch tens of thousands more.
Please help us help them.
From Saint Matthew 25:
"I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.
Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Thank you everyone!
Watch us on Fox13 Salt Lake City HERE
Learn more at SandhillRescue.org
*Image credit: Today Show