As attacks across Ukraine continue, ORT has launched an ambitious mission to evacuate students, teachers and their families from some of the worst-affected areas.
To date 153 people have been successfully relocated from Zaporizhzhia and Odesa, both home to ORT Schools, to new accommodation in western Ukraine – and it is thanks to the ongoing support of our donors worldwide that this vital assistance has been provided.
Mila Finkelshtein, ORT Ukraine Chief Executive, said: “The evacuations were very difficult as in addition to students and teachers, family members evacuated included elderly grandparents and babies. The trip from Zaporizhzhia took almost 20 hours by bus. We have given people the chance to sleep at night, to study, to work.”
Zaporizhzhia is less than 15 kilometres from the front line. Similarly in Odesa our students and their families are in constant danger. While many thousands of our students have left their home cities in the past eight months, many remain and are seeking shelter.
Under the guidance of ORT leaders in Ukraine, suitable accommodations have been secured in a hotel in Truskavets, a town close to Lviv and the Polish border.
The hotel provides security and comes with guaranteed heating – a critical commodity now as winter approaches. Children are able to study at the accommodation and parents can work remotely if their jobs allow. It is expected that the ORT group – around 90 percent of whom are from Zaporizhzhia will remain there until the end of the year. Other families had hoped to escape but were unable to leave because the students’ parents are doctors and must stay to help. Around a dozen more refugees plan to move to Truskavets shortly.
Daria travelled to Truskavets from Odesa with her baby and her son, a sixth grade ORT student.
She said: “The situation in our city has started to worsen. The bombings became more frequent. My husband has lost his job and I am on maternity leave, so we agreed to evacuate and now we are here.
“We had a very warm welcome. The children have amazing conditions to study here. Parents were also provided with all the necessities for a peaceful life – we have meals and live in very good conditions. It is warm in the rooms – we have everything we need. We are very happy to be here and thank everyone who contributed to this effort and helped us.”
One mother from Zaporizhzhia said: “We are endlessly grateful to ORT for this evacuation, for allowing the children to sleep peacefully, to smile, to run around. Now in Truskavets children can continue their studies with ORT. We are very thankful and very happy that ORT provided us with this opportunity.”
ORT’s Ukraine emergency campaign continues to cover a range of needs including security, food and accommodation requirements.
Almost $250,000 of funding has already been secured for the Truskavets initiative until the end of the year, with an option to examine extending the contract if required.
With missile attacks intensifying in recent weeks, educational institutions across Ukraine have been forced to either close or switch to online learning. Most ORT schools in the country are currently studying remotely.
As the situation worsens, communication with ORT colleagues in Ukraine has become more difficult. The winter is likely to be a long, challenging time for them with huge uncertainties around most aspects of daily life, with the most critical being sufficient and reliable electricity and heating.
We hope you will continue to support our ORT Ukraine campaign to ensure we can continue to provide for the most pressing needs – both those that are known to us today and those that are unexpected that can arise with little notice in the future.