Russian-Ukrainian war: California-based nonprofit rescues 15 disabled Ukrainians stranded in war zone, hopes to save more


UKRAINE (KGO) – As war continues in Ukraine, a California-based nonprofit is helping disabled Ukrainians flee to neighboring countries.

It’s a daring rescue that requires mobilization in the war zone.

“For example, with a quadriplegic, if they’re on the 9th or 7th floor when there’s this alarm that there might be a bomb, they don’t have time physically to come down,” said Galyna, Ukrainian . citizen.

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Galyna directs the critical efforts of the California-based organization Joni & Friends International Disability Center. Galyna’s husband has enlisted to fight for their country and she helps stranded Ukrainians with disabilities cross the border into Poland and other neighboring countries.

About 24 hours ago, she had a Zoom chat with the nonprofit’s CEO about how they helped evacuate 35 people, including 15 with disabilities.

“So we were trying to evacuate people with quadriplegia or cerebral palsy or wheelchair users first. We have 11 people in wheelchairs in total and also four children,” Galyna said.

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According to the Ukrainian government, there are more than 2.6 million people with disabilities in their country. Joni & Friends International Disability Center prepares to begin its second rescue mission.

“In eastern Ukraine there are care institutions and orphanages where we have heard that the staff abandon some of these people. We cannot confirm this, but in the event of war, of course, these establishments will be short-staffed,” said Joni Eareckson Tada. , CEO of the Joni & Friends International Disability Center.

Joni Eareckson Tada is a well-known disability advocate, her non-profit organization provides assistance to the disability community around the world. Their target now is Ukraine.

Luz Pena: “Where does your team find people with disabilities, do they knock on doors or go to hospitals? How do they find them?”

Joni Eareckson Tada: “We work through our extensive network of churches, non-profit organizations, yes medical institutions. Most of these people are sequestered on the 5th and 6th floors of apartment buildings.”

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As their mission continues, this group of volunteers has secured accommodation for the caravan of disabled Ukrainian refugees in the Netherlands.

“We thank God that we were able to cooperate with the local government,” Galyna said and added, “You feel relaxed that this group of people are already safe.”

You can go here to help the Joni & Friends International Disability Center with their next rescue mission.

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