Warning: This is not your typical celebration of spring blog post.
It’s not that we’re not happy to see signs of spring. Warmer weather, songbirds, and blossoming buds are all welcome harbingers of this wonderful time of year.
Yet, recent current events—i.e., the war in Ukraine—make it difficult to maintain a cheerful and optimistic attitude. The war is catastrophic for everyone in Ukraine but perhaps most of all for the estimated 2.7 million Ukrainians with disabilities.
We’ve seen the news coverage of thousands of Ukrainians fighting to save their country, while others attempt to flee war-torn cities and towns to save their lives. Their efforts are heroic and unimaginable for most of us who live in the West. But what about Ukrainians who are unable to fight or to flee? The story of Ukraine’s disabled isn’t covered as much but is arguably even more tragic. Many bomb shelters are inaccessible to wheelchair users, while individuals who are immunocompromised who make it to a crowded bomb shelter face the danger of contracting a deadly disease. Those who need medication to prevent seizures or other health challenges also struggle to stay alive. The greatest tragedy of all may be that some disabled children in Ukrainian institutions are sometimes left behind.
Wondering how you can help? Here are some organizations working to help disabled Ukrainians that need your support.
1. Fight for Right
This NGO defends the rights of Ukrainians with disabilities. It is headed by Ukraine human rights advocate Yuliia Sachuk, who was selected as an Obama Leader by the Obama Foundation, recognizing her as an emerging leader in Europe who has demonstrated a commitment to advancing the common good. Fight for Right is helping disabled individuals and their families to evacuate safely and providing them with necessary funds. The organization is also aiding those who are unable to leave Ukraine by providing food and medication. To support Fight for Right, visit its GoFundMe page.
2. Joni & Friends
Christian organization Joni & Friends is mobilizing churches in Ukraine to find and evacuate individuals with disabilities in the country. Once disabled individuals are found and brought to safety, representatives from Joni & Friends meet them at the Polish border and transport them to Germany or the Netherlands. As a message on the organization’s website reads: “we are currently working with our contacts to relocate these precious people into welcoming homes where they will have food, blankets, medical care, and urgently needed hospital supplies—things even as simple as catheters for urinary drainage.” Joni & Friends has a 3-Star “Give with Confidence” rating from Charity Navigator.
3. Bright Kids Charity
This Ukrainian organization is focused on providing support such as groceries, high-nutrition food, and hygiene products to families of children with disabilities who are not able to evacuate. Bright Kids Charity is on the GlobalGiving.org giving platform. Global Giving vets all charities it accepts on it site for authenticity and impact.
4. International Committee Red Cross (ICRC)
Among the many other services it provides, the ICRC sends visiting nurses to individuals with disabilities who are sheltering at home. Based in Switzerland, the organization has won several Nobel Peace Prizes and has an excellent reputation as an impactful charity. The organization claims on its website that 93.5% of all monies donated are used for field work.
5. National Assembly of Persons with Disabilities of Ukraine (NAPD)
NAPD is an association of 120 organizations that represents the interests of people with disabilities in Ukraine. The organization remains active during the war and is focused on helping individuals who remain in the country as well as advising those who wish to leave on evacuation, border crossing, and humanitarian assistance.
6. Inclusion Europe
Inclusion Europe is working with the VGO (an all-Ukrainian NGO Coalition for Persons with Intellectual Disability) to help individuals with disabilities and their families who are unable to leave the country. The NGO is providing food, water, medicines, hygiene products, and other goods to these families. Inclusion Europe says that 100% of donations to the Ukraine people affected by the war will be used to assist the disabled and their families.
7. Polish Association for People with Intellectual Disability (PSONI)
Many Ukrainians with disabilities and their families who are able to leave Ukraine, need a great deal of assistance once they arrive in their new countries. PSONI, an NGO that is part of the European Disability Forum, is raising money to provide support for these individuals when they arrive at Poland’s borders. According to the European Disability Forum’s website, the funds PSONI collects will be used for “for short-term and long-term accessible accommodation, accessible transportation to cross the border, rehabilitation equipment (e.g., wheelchairs, crutches, rehabilitation beds…), medical supplies (e.g., catheters, diaper pants…), food, assistant and psychological support, translators of Polish to/from Ukrainian/Russian, etc.”
Consult your tax adviser on tax deductibility of donations to international non-profits before making a donation.