Everyday Heroes in Ukraine Rescue 14,000 Children and Families with Support of Children’s Charity
Evacuees in Ukraine call Kidsave’s team there “Angels of Hope.” What started as a small, rag-tag group of civilians, orphan advocates, volunteers, truck drivers, regular people has grown into a team of 65 on the ground expertly rescuing more than 14,000 women, children, and elderly out of war zones. The team answers calls 24-hours a day from desperate civilians whose neighborhoods were just bombed. They make 1200-mile treks into the most dangerous areas to save as many children and families as possible. They are one of the only groups still rescuing from these areas.
Pavlo Shulha, Kidsave Ukraine director and mentoring association president, leads the team there. “Cities in Mykolaiv, like Snihurivka and Bashtanka, are constantly under fire. Women, children, and babies have been living in basements without power, water, and heat for two weeks now. After we fill all our buses and vans, more people pull on the door handles, begging us to get on board,” says Shulha.
After the firsts Russian attacks, Pavlo’s whole world completely changed. A husband and father of nine (one biological child and eight fostered orphans), his career was spent as an advocate for orphaned children. He and his wife Olena led Kidsave’s pilot program to move orphans out of institutions and into family-based care and corporate mentoring to prepare them for the working world.
On February 23, his only priority was to get 117 people, made up of orphans Kidsave served and their new families, out of the line of fire. Pavlo called his friends, and they loaded up their vehicles and borrowed utility vans to get these families to smaller villages. This team hasn’t stopped since.
Today, Pavlo and Kidsave have worked for two months, with little to no sleep, leading a fleet of over 40 purchased and rented passenger vehicles. Through the support of public donations, Kidsave’s team can now rescue 1150 at one time. The goal is to expand this fleet and move as quickly and discreetly as possible, says Pavlo.
“I never imagined I would be doing this work. Some of the things we’ve seen on our trips have hurt too much to tell. But, we have to keep going back. They have no means to escape without us. We can’t stop.”
Kidsave’s team has no plans of stopping anytime soon and will be there for the long haul. Kidsave’s goal is to bring orphans and children back to Ukraine one day soon and resume work finding children loving homes in Ukraine.
Kidsave’s Ukrainian Rescue Efforts to Date:
- Kidsave has been working in Ukraine since 2016, facilitating training, corporate mentoring, and family finding for older children and teens, so when crisis struck, Kidsave acted immediately.
- On February 24, 2022 Kidsave began evacuating children and families out of active combat zones.
- Since then, Kidsave has helped more than 14,000 people get to safety. More than 8,000 are children.
- Since evacuations started, we’ve evacuated children from 10 orphanages.
- Kidsave’s rescue efforts began with three team members, their friends, and their own personal cars. Since then, the team has grown to well over 65 committed drivers and volunteers and a fleet of 40 vehicles to evacuate children and families, providing humanitarian aid.
- Kidsave’s team and volunteers on the ground have been making 1,200-mile trips back and forth, traveling in dangerous conditions through Mykolaiv, Kherson, New Odesa, Ismail, and more cities, for days at a time.
- Kidsave has safely delivered people to the borders of Poland, Moldova, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Romania, and Germany.
- Kidsave’s Ukraine team has also delivered 150 tons of humanitarian aid collected from other NGOs and volunteers at the border to hospitals and rehab centers while en route back to the regions to rescue more people.
- Kidsave’s work does not end with evacuation. Kidsave has set up a hotline for psychological assistance and counseling to provide continuing support. In addition to providing shelter, food, and necessities, Kidsave is also partnering with churches and other organizations to help them feel as safe and comfortable as possible once they cross the border.
- Our top priority is to get children living in institutions out of danger zones. Kidsave has been cleared to move children from orphanages to safety. By law, the regional governors and child welfare staff must determine when children can leave the country and where they will go once they are out of Ukraine.
- The Ukrainian Government has halted all international adoptions to keep children as safe as possible.
- Kidsave will continue working in Ukraine after the war and help children return to families where possible, and find new families when no opportunities exist with kin.
Who is Kidsave?
- Kidsave is a 501(c)(3) non-profit committed to helping older children in foster care in the United States and orphans around the world find permanent families since 1999.
- Kidsave runs domestic, Weekend Miracles programs in the U.S. to find adoptive families and lasting connections for older kids in Los Angeles and Houston. 7 out of 10 kids exit the program with a lasting connection or permanent family. Kidsave also runs a Summer Miracles Hosting program bringing older children with no adoption prospects in Colombia to the U.S. over the summer and winter. 8 out of 10 children find adoptive families.
- 20 governments in 6 countries and more than 50 child placement agencies use Kidsave’s Family Visit model.
Funds for Kidsave Ukraine
- These rescue efforts are possible because of donations from the public. More funds are needed to continue to evacuate children and families out of active combat zones,
- All donations made to Kidsave go directly towards this effort as the organization desperately tries to save children and families before it is too late. Evacuation windows are closing as bombings become more intense, and there are still thousands of civilians—thousands of children—trapped in Ukraine.
Director of Development: Liz Crozer
Kidsave helps find forever families for older kids in foster care and orphanages so they can thrive in a home filled with love, support and encouragement.
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I am the evidence of the generational change that adoption brings. Without the adoption of my mother and the path it put her on, I wouldn’t be here. Adoption not only changes the life of the child and the family at the center of it, but it also creates these beautiful ripples that flow from it, and my family is proof of that. And that’s why I am so proud to support organizations like Kidsave who are creating life-changing ripples as champions for older kids in foster care.
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Three out of four kids in Weekend Miracles have found adoptive families or a lifelong connection.
“Next year Kidsave will celebrate our 25th anniversary. In honor of this milestone, we are asking 25 local donors to give $1,000 or more. Each gift allows us to help even more children find forever families and get them the love and care they deserve,” says Randi Thompson, Kidsave CEO and co-founder.
Karey Burke and Michael Duggan
California Federation for
Disney Worldwide Services, Inc.
Fund of Boeing California
Leonard Green Foundation
Max and Karel Guefen
The Hicker Family
Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
The Bob and Nita Hirsch
David and Janyce Hoyt
Audrey and Sydney Irmas
Thomas and Dorothy Leavey
Ralph M. Parsons Foundation
M B Seretean Foundation Inc.
Dave Thomas Foundation
Venable Foundation, Inc.
Warner Bros. Television