A humanitarian crisis is growing in Ukraine as millions of women and children leave the war-torn area, hoping to find safety.
These groups are both vulnerable to many dangers, but the most at-risk are the thousands of orphans, either stuck in bomb shelters or fleeing to safety.
What You Need To Know
- Ukraine had an estimated 150,000-240,000 orphans living in the country before the war
- Aerial Recovery is leading the Ukraine Orphan Rescue Mission
- Orphans are the most vulnerable to dangers like human trafficking
- Volunteers with the group transport women and children from volatile areas in western Ukraine to safe communities in the east
- It costs an estimated $500 to rescue and safely re-home one orphan
Josh Brock of Catawba County, North Carolina was recently in Poland volunteering with a group to watch over the orphans and was there for almost two weeks.
“You see heartbroken women, you see women who have lived their whole life in Ukraine and have been kicked out. You see women who have been separated from their husbands who are forced to fight, you see children who are forced to leave their father, because they have to fight, and you see kids who don’t have a clue whats going on," Brock said.
The group he volunteered with is Aerial Recovery, which is leading the Ukraine Orphan Rescue Mission.
Their mission is to transport orphans from dangerous locations to safer communities in partnership with the Ukrainian government, and most importantly, keeping them away from potential human trafficking.
“I know for a fact, I watched a couple myself, they’re here. They’re here, they’re walking around the camps, they’re trying to blend in with large groups of women and kids, and they just tell them, don’t talk to them, act like they’re with the group so they don’t look suspicious, but they’re all over," Brock said.
But Brock says their mission doesn't stop when orphans arrive at a shelter. They help them with all their needs, including food, medical and any mental health struggles.
“We’re making sure they are able to sleep, we’re making sure they get bedtime stories. One of most precious things I've seen here was an orphan reading other orphans a bedtime story, and just that sense of comfort for those kids in this time," Brock said.
Aerial Recovery Group CEO Britnie Turner says it costs an estimated $500 to safely transport one orphan from beginning to end.
"We make sure the shelters that we take them to are equipped for children — showers, beds, entertainment. It's not easy to keep hundreds of kids happy and healthy at one time," Turner said.
The group's exact location is unknown and kept secret from those who might wish them harm.
“There’s Russian spies all over the place. They are on the ground in Poland. Aerial is actually making a difference over here, and the difference Aerial is making, Putin is not a big fan of," Brock said.