Just as we have worked hard to move humanitarian aid such as tactical and hospital medical supplies across borders and into Ukraine, we have simultaneously developed an evacuation system for some of the most vulnerable in times of war – children and children with disabilities. This effort began with children with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). Razom has been connected to these children through the “Dity, My Vstygnemo” – “Children, We Will Make It” project, launched in 2021 as a civic movement and advocacy campaign to improve healthcare access for Ukrainian children suffering from SMA.
In times of war, children with disabilities need to be evacuated early before they are in danger of missing out on special care and assistance needed to thrive and survive. These children also require an individualized evacuation approach as they are unable to board crowded trains and buses. Moreover, taking care of civilians before their environment becomes an active war zone allows the Ukrainian army to work more efficiently, knowing civilians are out of harm’s way. Therefore we activated our volunteer and partner network immediately when the war began, and to date, have evacuated 30 different families (making up 83 individuals) from nine cities and regions of Ukraine (including Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, Zhytomyr, Dnipro, Irpin, Zaporizhzhia, Sumy, and Kryvyi Rih).
This has been a complete volunteer effort. A group of 12 Razom volunteers (across US and Ukraine, including 5 drivers) have worked day and night coordinating resources and safe routes for passage to evacuate children and their families from the most dangerous regions in Ukraine towards western Ukraine. We worked with the All Hands And Hearts nonprofit to help procure minivans (we have four of them to date, one of which was privately funded), and have partnered with the Polish SMA Foundation to take care of these children once we get them across the border.
As we continue to scale this project, we’ve also been able to assist families who are driving their children with disabilities out west on their own, to guide them through safe routes. This includes helping them find shelter along the way. Razom has been developing a database of places willing to shelter refugees safely and freely even before the war began.
As we work to obtain more vehicles that will allow us to further expand this project, we are also developing a system whereby minibusses that make their way east are filled with humanitarian aid. Right now, every action we take must have maximum positive impact on lives in Ukraine.
Please consider donating to Razom Emergency Response project for us to continue to scale this operation.